Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

The Stig accuses BBC of hypocrisy

Ben Collins claims the BBC blew his identity first

The man sacked from his role as The Stig on Top Gear has accused the BBC of hypocrisy after he claimed they were the ones who first blew his identity.

Breaking his silence after a BBC legal bid to block the book failed, Ben Collins told The Sun that the court battle was "ridiculous".

The BBC tried to prevent publication of his autobiography, claiming it had a confidential arrangement with the 35-year-old driver.

He said: "It is a travesty that a state-funded broadcaster gagged my free speech. It was hypocritical to suggest I'd done any more to reveal myself than they had."

He said an arm of the BBC had been responsible for putting his name in the public arena two years ago in a feature speculating about The Stig's identity in the Radio Times, which is published by BBC Worldwide. He said his name was published as one of the potential candidates which led to him being recognised.

"I was astonished. I was being outed by the very people I worked for. Yet I knew nothing about it," he said.

The book, The Man In The White Suit, is published next week by HarperCollins, which is owned by News Corporation.

A BBC spokeswoman said on Friday: "Today's interview appears in a newspaper that is owned by the same company that is publishing Ben's book. It seems to have been designed simply to attempt to generate further sales."

A BBC source added: "The Radio Times - which is published independently of the BBC - used a list of possible names supplied by bookmaker William Hill on which Ben Collins's name appeared. These were already in the public domain so to say the BBC confirmed all of this is nonsense."

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