Belfast Telegraph

BBC fights to protect Stig identity

A BBC bid to prevent the identity of Top Gear's mystery driver The Stig being revealed has begun in private at the High Court.

The corporation has taken legal action to block HarperCollins publish an autobiography which would unmask the faceless show favourite, who speeds around a race track with a blackened visor.

It is claimed he is bound by a confidentiality agreement and that revealing who he is would spoil viewers' enjoyment of the popular BBC Two programme.

At the start of a day-long hearing before Mr Justice Morgan in London, the BBC's counsel, Richard Spearman QC, said the press and public should be excluded from hearing the legal arguments.

But Hugh Tomlinson QC, for the publishers, said they should stay but be subject to extensive restrictions covering the disclosure of any confidential information pending the conclusion of the matter.

Ordering that it was appropriate to proceed behind closed doors, the judge said publicity would plainly defeat the object of the hearing.

The current Stig is the second in the role. The first Stig, Perry McCarthy, was dropped in 2003 after his identity was uncovered.

After news of the legal action broke, HarperCollins criticised the corporation for using licence fee cash on the moves to block the book and said it would "vigorously defend" its right to publish it.

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