BBC Seeks U.K. Court Order to Keep Identity of Top Gear's `Stig' a Secret
The British Broadcasting Corp. asked for a court order preventing News Corp.’s HarperCollins from disclosing the identity of the “Stig,” a race driver who appears on the broadcaster’s “Top Gear” show.
Lawyers for BBC sought the order at a closed hearing in London today. Before the case went into a private session, HarperCollins lawyer Hugh Tomlinson said the case was about the Stig.
“The central secret in the case is the identity of the Stig,” Tomlinson said. The BBC is “seeking to restrain the identification of the second defendant.”
The BBC is suing over the publisher’s planned autobiography of the Stig, HarperCollins said in a statement. “Top Gear” is one of the U.K.’s most popular shows. Eight of the 10 most- watched shows on the BBC’s iPlayer download service in 2009 were episodes of the program, the Times reported.
HarperCollins “will vigorously defend the perfectly legitimate right of this individual to tell his story,” the publisher said in a statement.
Two weeks ago the Sunday Times reported that the Stig is a Formula 3 driver named Ben Collins. In the show, the Stig wears white overalls and a white helmet with a black visor which he always keeps down, obscuring his face.
Justice Paul Morgan ruled that the case should be heard in private. “Publicity plainly would defeat the object of this hearing,” he said.
The BBC’s press office didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
The case is British Broadcasting Corporation v. HarperCollins, No. HC10C02684, High Court of Justice Chancery Division.