Top Gear’s Stig has been unmasked as Ben Collins, after the BBC was refused an injunction to stop his autobiography, which reveals his identity, being published.

Ben Colllins, 33, is among other racing drivers who have been suspected of playing Top Gear’s Stig. Collins, 33, has been a stunt double for James Bond, driving the Aston Martins in the latest 007 film, Quantam of Solace, and his website mentions inconspicuously: ‘Collins is also a leading stunt driver for film and television’.

However, until now, the identity of Top Gear’s Stig has been a mystery.

Today the BBC’s legal action to block publication by HarperCollins of the book revealing Stig’s identity was overruled.

In response to today’s decision, a BBC spokesperson said: “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 judgement does not prevent the BBC from pursuing this matter to trial and the BBC will not be deterred from protecting such information from attack no matter when or by whom it should arise.”

Speculation about the identity of Top Gear’s white-suited circuit driver has been rife about other names put forward include including former Formula One world champions Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher.

As the legal battle between the BBC and Harper Collins hotted up, Top Gear boss Andy Wilman blogged:

“The whole point of the Stig is the mystique – the bizarre characteristics he has, the wonderment created about what he might think, feel, do or look like. Kids adore the conceit, and I believe adults, although they know it’s a man in a suit (or is it?), gladly buy into the whole conceit because they find it entertaining.”

Shortly before his ruling, Collins left the courtroom to return home to Bristol where his wife has recently given birth.

Asked by the media if he had his trademark Top Gear helmet with him, Collins replied: “You’re trying to tempt me into saying something I shouldn’t.”