Top Gear's The Stig unmasked after High Court ruling

The identity of Top Gear's The Stig will be unveiled as racing driver Ben Collins after the High Court refused to grant an injunction stopping Mr Collin's autobiography being published.

• Ben Collins looks set to be named as The Stig (left)

The decision came after a day of legal wrangling in private, with the BBC seeking a temporary ban on the basis that the book would breach confidentiality obligations.

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."

Simon Dowson-Collins, the publisher's director of legal services, said The Stig was in court today - but added that it would not confirm the mystery driver's identity until the book launch on September 16.

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."

It was widely reported that The Stig was Mr Collins after his company's financial reports listed Top Gear among its work.

The BBC responded this was "no surprise" as he had appeared numerous times on the programme and supplied drivers for it.

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."

A spokesman for the BBC said today: "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.

"The BBC brought this action as we believe it is vital to protect the character of The Stig, which ultimately belongs to the licence-fee payer.

"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."