Injured presenter in BBC damages fight tells of difficulties using computers
A television presenter embroiled in a £3.9 million damages fight with the BBC has told a High Court judge he had difficulties using computers and phones 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, Mrs Justice Yip has heard.
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.
Mrs Justice Yip, who has heard that Mr Stansfield is pursuing £3.9 million in damages, is overseeing a trial at the High Court in London.
He told of his difficulties with computer and phone screens on Tuesday while being questioned by barrister Jonathan Watt-Pringle QC, who is representing the BBC, about the effect his injuries had on his health.
“For a long time I had to look at the screen sideways,” he told the judge.
“Using my phone, I would get more and more tense, I would just drop it sometimes.”
He said a doctor had told him that such a problem was “not unknown” with a neck injury.
Mr Watt-Pringle said documentation showed a “huge output” of work done by Mr Stansfield on email.
Mr Stansfield said he had only been able to look at a screen for short periods of time.
“Short chunks, of like maybe an hour a day,” he said.
“An eighth of what a normal person could do.”
He said he had started using a software called f.lux, which altered a screen and helped him.
Mr Watt-Pringle had outlined the background to the litigation in a written case summary at the start of the trial on Monday.
He 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 8th February 2013, in which the claimant was injured during the making of an episode of Bang Goes The Theory.”
He said the “rig” used for 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 that £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”.