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Stigma continues

3 September 2010

In last week’s Legal Opinion, Stig facing the dump, Browne Jacobson reported the initiation of legal proceedings by the BBC who were seeking to restrain the publication of Ben Collins’ autobiography, The Man in the White Suit, which identified Mr Collins as Top Gear’s enigmatic celebrity driver The Stig.    

By ruling of Mr Justice Morgan earlier this week, the High Court declined to grant the above relief, leaving publishers HarperCollins free to proceed with its proposed release. The Court’s reasoning is presently unknown and may remain so for some time as it is understood that judgment is to be given in private. One can only speculate, therefore, that the BBC may have been unable to show the necessary quality of confidence in Stig’s identity to persuade the Court that an injunction was appropriate (speculations about Mr Collins’ alter ego having been published as long ago as January 2009). Alternatively, HarperCollins may have successfully relied on Mr Collins’ right to freedom of expression, enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to defeat the BBC’s application.    

Of course, just because the BBC has lost the battle for an interim injunction, doesn’t mean that it will not ultimately be entitled to compensation for what may have been a breach of an equitable and/or contractual duty of confidence by Ben Collins. If this happens, Mr Collins may find a significant proportion of his royalty income wending its way towards dear old Auntie.

Some say…  it’s not over yet!

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