Newspaper columnist and Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has abandoned an injunction to prevent allegations about his private life being published.
The gagging order banned the publication of personal details, including a claim by his first wife, Alexandra Hall, that they had an affair after he married his current wife, Frances.
The BBC star, who obtained the injunction at the High Court last autumn, decided to apply for it to be lifted yesterday because it was “pointless” and “injunctions don’t work”.
It has been reported that the order had banned the reporting of “sexual or other intimate acts or dealings” between Clarkson and his first wife as well as the Top Gear presenter’s “private thoughts and feelings, his health and other financial affairs”.
Clarkson, 51, said his ex-wife was now free to tell her story, adding that “people can either believe it or not, it’s up to them”.
The move comes six months after BBC presenter Andrew Marr also dropped a High Court injunction.
Explaining why he chose to unmask himself, Clarkson – who writes columns for The Sun, Sunday Times and Top Gear magazine – told the Daily Mail:
“One, most importantly, injunctions don’t work.
“You take out an injunction against somebody or some organisation and immediately news of that injunction and the people involved and the story behind the injunction is in a legal-free world on Twitter and the internet. It’s pointless.
“Secondly, you used to be able to take out an injunction and then just sit on it. But as a result of a recent court case you are now ultimately forced by the courts to go to trial – which is unbelievably expensive.
“If you win, news leaks out on the internet. If you lose, you then get raped by your opponent’s legal fees.”
Clarkson went on to say he regretted having taken out the injunction, adding: “There is also an assumption of guilt which goes hand in hand with an injunction.
“Thirdly, my mother was desperately ill at the time last year. But she had a scan last week and it’s now entirely fixed.”
The broadcaster is said to be spending the rest of the week 300 metres under the ocean on a nuclear submarine.
He told The Sun: “My wife and I decided to let it go. My ex-wife is now free to tell her story and people can either believe it or not, it’s up to them.
“I will be on a nuclear submarine.”
Max Clifford, who is representing Ms Hall, said: “She is delighted that the injunction has been withdrawn.
“She wants the whole truth to come out and she feels that a large black cloud that has been hanging over her for the last year has been lifted.”
Clarkson told the Daily Express: “I have to be very careful about what I say about her claims. I’m not denying them because denying them has legal implications now. She now has the right to say what she wants. And you can choose whether or not to believe her.”
Andrew Marr revealed in April that he took out a super-injunction in January 2008 to prevent reporting of an affair with another national newspaper reporter.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Marr said he felt “uneasy” about the injunction.
He told the newspaper: “I did not come into journalism to go around gagging journalists.
“Am I embarrassed by it? Yes. Am I uneasy about it? Yes.”
But he added: “I also had my own family to think about, and I believed this story was nobody else’s business.
“I still believe there was, under those circumstances, no public interest in it.”