Ben Collins’ career as Top Gear‘s The Stig has been halted following his High Court battle with the BBC, sources said.

Collins is thought to be highly unlikely to return to television screens as the show’s faceless mystery driver after his identity was very publicly revealed.

The case has also cast doubt on whether the character will reappear at all in the next series of the programme, played by a different driver.

A decision on whether The Stig will be axed is expected in the next two months, but is unlikely to be announced before the series starts in December.

The BBC took legal action to block publication by HarperCollins of an autobiography which would unmask Mr Collins’s identity. But after more than a day of legal argument in private, Mr Justice Morgan said on Wednesday he would not grant the BBC a temporary injunction to do this.

The identity of the driver has been a badly-kept secret, having already been published in the media last year.

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

Dowson-Collins said: “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 claimed the book would breach confidentiality obligations, 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.”