A television presenter has begun a £3.9 million High Court damages fight with the BBC after getting hurt while playing the role of a “crash test dummy” during a science programme eight years ago.
Jeremy Stansfield, 45, from Hove, East Sussex, was injured while carrying out “crash tests” in a specially-designed “rig” during the BBC programme Bang Goes The Theory, in February 2013, a judge has heard.
Mrs Justice Yip, who has heard that Mr Stansfield wants £3.9 million in damages, began overseeing a trial at the High Court in London on Monday.
Mr Stansfield says he suffered spine and brain injuries and lost more than £3 million in potential future earnings.
The BBC is disputing Mr Stansfield’s damages claim.
A barrister representing the BBC outlined the background to the litigation to the judge in a written case summary.
Jonathan Watt-Pringle QC said Mr Stansfield, who is known as “Jem”, was a self-employed “inventor, writer and presenter” who became involved in television programmes as an engineer and presenter in the early 2000s.
“He worked on a number of programmes and, in 2009, was recruited to work as one of the four co-presenters on Bang Goes The Theory, which was a popular science programme on BBC television,” explained Mr Watt-Pringle.
“The claim arises out of crash tests on February 8 2013, in which the claimant was injured during the making of an episode of Bang Goes The Theory.”
He said the “rig” used the “crash tests” had been designed and built by Mr Stansfield and engineers had gauged the speed of a number of tests at being between eight mph and 11.5 mph.
Mr Watt-Pringle said Mr Stansfield’s case was that “repeated acceleration-deceleration forces” generated by five crash tests in which he participated as a “crash test dummy” caused him harm including “soft tissue injury to the structures around his spine” and “subtle brain injury”.
He said Mr Stansfield was claiming more than £3 million in respect of future lost earnings.
Mr Watt-Pringle said liability had been admitted subject to an agreed one third reduction for “contributory negligence”.
He said the BBC disputed the assertion that Mr Stansfield “sustained the injuries and suffered the symptoms and losses alleged”.
Marcus Grant, who is representing Mr Stansfield, said Mr Stansfield’s case was supported by 11 lay witnesses “to attest to his suffering and loss” over the past eight years.
He said Mr Stansfield had been “exposed to an unusual and dangerous mechanism of injury”.
Mr Grant said the symptoms Mr Stansfield complained of fell across a “number of clinical disciplines which overlap and interact with one another” and had continued to cause “significant dysfunction”.
Mr Stansfield had identified more that £600,000 worth of work that had been offered to him after the crash tests, but which he had to turn down because of health reasons, he said.
He said after a while “the offers dried up” as “word got out” that Mr Stansfield was unavailable.
Mr Grant said there was evidence that Mr Stansfield had a “unique skillset” and that his career was entering a new phase.
He said Mr Stansfield had “signed up with a top agent” and was taking on “executive producer credits” which “monetised his creative ideas and writing abilities”.