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Publisher slates BBC over Stig row

The publisher embroiled in a legal battle with the BBC over a memoir by Top Gear's The Stig has attacked the corporation for using licence fee cash on legal moves to block the book.

Book giant HarperCollins said it would "vigorously defend" its right to publish the book.

It comes as the mysterious helmeted figure was apparently unmasked at the weekend.

The BBC has been trying to stop the publication of the book and claims that confidentiality agreements stop the driver from revealing his identity.

HarperCollins said in a statement: "We are disappointed that the BBC has chosen to spend licence fee payers' money to suppress this book and will vigorously defend the perfectly legitimate right of this individual to tell his story."

Racing driver Ben Collins - who was a stunt double for James Bond - has been linked to the role of The Stig in financial documents. He is one of several drivers whose names have been put forward as being the white-clad figure who regularly takes to the track on the BBC2 show.

The case has reached the High Court but is understood to have been adjourned "by consent" until next week. No details of the application were given in court.

A BBC spokesman said: "This situation has come about as a result of an attempt by an external party to profit from unauthorised use of the Top Gear brand, one of the BBC's biggest and most watched shows in the UK around the world.

"It is also worth stating that the overwhelming majority of Top Gear's viewers tell us they want The Stig's identity to remain under wraps as it is a key part of their enjoyment of the show."

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