Top Gear's The Stig is unmasked
The High Court has refused to ban a book which reveals that Top Gear's The Stig is racing driver Ben Collins.
After more than a day of legal argument in private, Mr Justice Morgan said he would not grant the BBC a temporary injunction blocking publication of Mr Collins's autobiography.
Shortly before his ruling, Mr Collins left the courtroom to return home to Bristol where his wife has recently given birth.
Asked by the media if he was The Stig, the 33-year-old James Bond stunt double said he could not talk about it. Quizzed over whether he had his trademark helmet with him, he replied: "You're trying to tempt me into saying something I shouldn't."
He added: 'We were very surprised the BBC took such action to prevent freedom of expression. We maintained all along that the information is already in the public domain."
A spokesman for the BBC, which claims the book would breach confidentiality obligations, said: "The Top Gear audience has always made it clear they enjoyed the mystery around the identity of The Stig. The BBC felt it important to protect that anonymity.
"Today's judgment does not prevent the BBC from pursuing this matter to trial and it will not be deterred from protecting such information from attack no matter when or by whom it should arise."
HarperCollins communications director Siobhan Kenny said: "This is a victory for freedom of speech. Ben Collins has a great story to tell about his seven years as The Stig which will appeal to a wide audience beyond the world of motoring enthusiasts. The book will be published on September 16."