BBC Director-General, Tony Hall, releases a statement that he has decided not to renew Jeremy Clarkson’s BBC contract with ‘great regret’.
LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (MARCH 25, 2015) (UK POOL) – The head of the BBC said on Wednesday (March 25) that the Top Gear presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, ‘crossed the line’ by physically and verbally abusing a producer and is being let go ‘with great regret’.
Following a day of rumours that Clarkson was going to be let go the BBC eventually confirmed it would not renew the contract for the hugely-popular but divisive presenter.
The Director-General Tony Hall released a televised statement proclaiming that Clarkson is a ‘huge talent’ who made ‘extraordinary work’ on Top Gear.
He also stated that the producer, Oisin Tymon, who was attacked by the Top Gear host will be ‘well looked after’.
Clarkson, 54, who has generated both controversy and profits for Britain’s publicly funded broadcaster, was already on a final warning over accusations last year that he had used racist language while filming the show.
No comment from Clarkson was immediately available.
Top Gear, which is aired in more than 200 countries, is one of the BBC’s most profitable shows but its lead host, a friend of Prime Minister David Cameron, has offended, among others, environmental groups, mental health charities and cyclists with his forthright manner.
Last October the show sparked a diplomatic incident between Britain and Argentina, two countries which went to war in 1982 over the Falkland islands.
A Top Gear television crew was forced to flee Argentina after driving a Porsche 928 GT with the registration number H982 FKL – which some people suggested could refer to the Falklands conflict.
Hall said he had not taken the decision lightly, and that he remained a great fan of Clarkson, whom he described as a “huge talent”.
“I know how popular the programme is and I also know that this decision will divide opinion,” he added.
More than a million people from around the world signed an online petition calling for the BBC to reinstate Clarkson after he was initially suspended.
In a report, the BBC said producer Oisin Tymon was subject to an unprovoked physical and verbal attack by Clarkson at a hotel in northern England earlier this month, which left him with swelling and bleeding to his lip.
“The verbal abuse was sustained over a longer period, both at the time of the physical attack and subsequently,” the report said, adding the abuse included strong expletives and threats to sack Tymon.
After the attack, the report said, Tymon was understood to have gone to hospital for a check-up.
Clarkson reported the incident himself and the report said it was not disputed by the presenter or any witness that Tymon was the victim of an unprovoked attack.