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I'm off to the job centre, says Clarkson


Jeremy Clarkson at the Champions League match between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge last night

Jeremy Clarkson at the Champions League match between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge last night

Getty Images

Jeremy Clarkson at the Champions League match between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge last night

The man in the eye of the media storm, Jeremy Clarkson, left his home yesterday, joking: "I'm off to the Job Centre".

The 'Top Gear' presenter, who is 54, was suspended by the BBC for allegedly hitting IrishOisin Tymon (36), a producer on 'Top Gear', after being told no dinner had been laid on for the presenters after they finished filming for the show one night last week.

Asked if he had any regrets about what had happened, he replied: "Yes".

Last night, BBC director-general Tony Hall said an investigation was going on to "gather the facts" about the incident.

"We do not have the facts at the moment," he said. "I am a fan of Jeremy Clarkson but this is a serious thing that is alleged to have taken place."

The show is the most popular factual TV programme in the world and generates about €200m a year for the BBC. It is watched in 242 regions.

The 'Radio Times' quotes sources close to the presenter as saying that his relationship with key BBC executives is so bad that he may simply quit.

"The last three episodes of this series have been pulled," the source said. "Can I see him going back to film another BBC series? I don't think so. But he'll be fine. The other broadcasters will bite his arm off."

Clarkson is also said to have told friends that he did not punch Mr Tymon but that there was "handbags and pushing" over the fact that no hot food was available after a day's filming.

Meanwhile, James May has said he is not worried about the future of 'Top Gear', telling reporters: "I'm not worried. I'm sure it will all be fine."

It is known that both Clarkson and his co-presenters Richard Hammond and May have turned down offers to go to Sky in the past.

Yesterday, a lawyer for Mr Tymon, who is believed to be Irish, said his client "intends to await the outcome of the BBC investigation and will make no comment until that investigation is complete". Clarkson has shrugged off his suspension, saying he was having a "nice cold pint and waiting for this to blow over".

He appeared equally untroubled by the corporation's decision to cancel Sunday's episode, saying that it should instead air 'Where Eagles Dare'. Several hours after the announcement, he seemed to make light of the situation, joking with co-presenters May and Hammond on Twitter.

May started the conversation, writing: "No 'Top Gear' this weekend, apparently. How about '633 Squadron' instead?" and Hammond replied: "No, surely, 'Last of the Summer Wine'; no one will notice the difference. Job done."

And Clarkson - breaking his silence - responded: "No no no. 'Where Eagles Dare'. Much better."

He later tweeted about Labour leader Ed Miliband: "Sorry Ed. It seems I knocked your 'I'm a human' piece down the news agenda."

The incident was only reported to the Corporation on Monday, resulting in Clarkson's suspension on Tuesday morning, a decision that was taken with the blessing of Mr Hall, the BBC director-general.

While outrage about his other controversies, including the apparent use of a racist term while reciting "eeney meeny miney moe" and the word "slope", have been driven largely by the public, any potential physical altercation must be taken much more seriously.

The investigation into the matter will now focus on the details of what happened; proving whether physical violence occurred and the circumstances around it.

The final outcome is likely not to be a matter of debate or opinion, and will not be down to the personal opinion - or grievances - of editorial staff. Any disciplinary procedures will now be carried out under the supervision of HR, with the BBC at great pains to attempt to protect the member of staff who reported the incident.

Following the Savile scandal and allegations of bullying, the corporation has made some efforts to ensure so-called whistleblowers can come forward without fear of repercussions. This, it appears, will be one of its first major tests. (© Daily Telegraph, London)