US electric car company Tesla has lost the first round in its attempt to sue BBC’s Top Gear programme and Jeremy Clarkson. Tesla is going for libel and malicious falsehood following an appearance of the car on the show in 2009.
The episode in question had Clarkson saying “although Tesla say it will do 200 miles, we worked out that on our track it would run out in just 55 miles.” Following this, the Top Gear crew pushed the car off the track. The bone of contention is that a Tesla employee allegedly saw a script showing plans to push the car off the track well before it had actually driven even a lap.
The British high court judge disagreed with Tesla in the libel case. “In my judgment, the words complained of are wholly incapable of conveying any meaning at all to the effect that the claimant [Tesla] misled anyone,” Mr Justice Tugendhat said, according to the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
“This is because there is a contrast between the style of driving and the nature of the track as compared with the conditions on a public road […] are so great that no reasonable person could understand that the performance on the [Top Gear] track is capable of a direct comparison with a public road.”
As for malicious falsehood, that will be decided in the coming weeks.