Police ask for copy of report
And on that bombshell…Top Gear’s Clarkson fired by the BBC
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson was fired by the BBC today after subjecting a producer on the show to “an unprovoked physical and verbal attack” that left his victim with a bleeding lip requiring hospital treatment.
The BBC said that “with regret” it would not be renewing Mr Clarkson’s contract, a move that is likely to provoke another backlash from his army of supporters.
Speculation about his replacement has thrown up a number of celebrity names from Radio Two presenter Chris Evans to the model Jodie Kidd, though motoring fans believe YouTube sensation Chris Harris should get the job (See Chatterbox).
Notes of the inquiry led by BBC Scotland controller Ken MacQuarrie reveal that the producer, Oisin Tymon, was struck, resulting in 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.
Mr Clarkson was suspended on 10 March following what was described as a “fracas” on 4 March on a patio area at the Simonstone Hall Hotel, North Yorkshire, where the team was working on location.
The physical attack lasted around 30 seconds and was halted by the intervention of a witness. Mr Tymon offered no retaliation. Verbal abuse was directed at Oisin Tymon on more than one occasion – both during the attack and subsequently inside the hotel – and contained the strongest expletives and threats to sack him.
The abuse was at such volume as to be heard in the dining room, and the shouting was audible in a hotel bedroom.
Derogatory and abusive language, relating to Oisin Tymon and other members of the Top Gear team, continued to be used by mr Clarkson inside the hotel, in the presence of others, for a sustained period of time.
Mr MacQuarrie says in his review. “It is clear that Oisin Tymon was shocked and distressed by the incident, and believed that he had lost his job.
“Following the attack, I understand that Oisin Tymon drove to a nearby A&E department for examination.
“Over the subsequent days, Jeremy Clarkson made a number of attempts to apologise to Oisin Tymon by way of text, email and in person; and it is the case that Jeremy Clarkson reported the incident to BBC management.”
Mr MacQuarrie adds: “It was not disputed by Jeremy Clarkson or any witness that Oisin Tymon was the victim of an unprovoked physical and verbal attack. It is also clear to me that Oisin Tymon is an important creative member of the Top Gear team who is well-valued and respected. He has suffered significant personal distress as a result of this incident, through no fault of his own.”
Today’s decision clearly indicated that the BBC had either run out of patience with Mr Clarkson, 54, who was already on a final warning, or else felt it had little choice in how to respond to the events.
“It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract,” Tony Hall, the BBC Director-General, said in a statement.
There was no comment from Clarkson, but there has already been speculation that he will be offered a contract by either ITV or Sky.
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 a record of causing offence, which he has always defended as jokes.
Among those who have complained about his behaviour are environmental groups, mental health charities lorry driver and cyclists.
Last October the show sparked a diplomatic incident between Britain and Argentina. The television crew was forced to flee 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”.
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.
Mr Tymon’s lawyer, Paul Daniels at Slater & Gordon said: “This last month has been a nightmare for Oisin, his friends and his family. Through absolutely no fault of his own he found himself at the centre of a massive news story, but despite that he has conducted himself with dignity, restraint and balance.
“This is an important reminder that UK law protects all staff who face bullying, discrimination or violence at work, and all employers are required to protect their staff from such behaviour.”
The Lawyer, a trade publication, reported that Clarkson had appointed Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to represent him in any potential commercial dispute against the BBC, ahead of director-general Tony Hall’s announcement that the corporation would not be renewing the presenter’s contract.
Mr Daniels signalled that Mr Tymon will return to his role at the BBC. Mr Tymon said that he was “grateful to the BBC for their thorough and swift investigation into this very regrettable incident”.
In a statement, thanked the BBC for a “thorough and swift investigation into this very regrettable incident”.
“I’ve worked on Top Gear for almost a decade, a programme I love,” he continued.
“Over that time Jeremy and I had a positive and successful working relationship, making some landmark projects together. He is a unique talent and I am well aware that many will be sorry his involvement in the show should end in this way.”
North Yorkshire police have asked to see the BBC’s internal report, saying it will be “assessed appropriately and action will be taken… where necessary”.
Olswang senior partner Mark Devereux represented Mr Clarkson during the BBC’s official disciplinary investigation.
Whether Clarkson’s co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond will remain with the show has yet to be confirmed, reported the BBC.
All three had their contracts up for renewal this year. Clarkson’s expires at the end of March.
Lord Hall said he had asked BBC Two controller Kim Shillinglaw to handle “big challenge” of renewing Top Gear for 2016, and to look into how the channel could broadcast the last three programmes of the current series, which were pulled from the schedule when Clarkson was suspended.
The BBC said that one of Clarkson’s potential replacements, Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans, has rubbished press speculation that he was to join the show.
“Not only is it not true, it’s absolute nonsense,” he told his listeners on Wednesday morning.
“From what I’ve seen on Twitter and various social media, there’s a 50/50 split approximately as to whether me being involved in the show is a good idea.
“In TV or radio, if you get a 50/50 love/hate reaction that usually equals massive hit. I used to work for [ratings body] Barb and knock on people’s doors and this was the rule of thumb.
“However, I’m in the no camp. So regardless of whether it would be a hit, I’m voting a no for myself on that show, so that’s never going happen.
“And that’s the end of that.”