Friday 22 November 2019

Jeremy Clarkson's contract will not be renewed - BBC

Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson's contract will not be renewed after a BBC investigation found he launched an "unprovoked physical and verbal attack" that left one of the show's producers in hospital.

Director-general Tony Hall said the decision had been taken with "great regret" but that Clarkson's attack on Irish producer Oisin Tymon meant "a line has been crossed".

He said: "It is not a decision I have taken lightly."

Clarkson has been suspended from the hit motoring show for more than two weeks since he was involved in what the BBC called a "fracas" with Tymon.

Jeremy Clarkson is best known for presenting Top Gear
Jeremy Clarkson is best known for presenting Top Gear

Mr Hall, who said he had met and spoken to both men, said the BBC needed "distinctive and different voices" but not "at any price".

He said: "Common to all at the BBC have to be standards of decency and respect.

"I cannot condone what has happened on this occasion. A member of staff - who is a completely innocent party - took himself to accident and emergency after a physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature.

"For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations."

The BBC investigation found Mr Tymon was "subject to an unprovoked physical and verbal attack by Jeremy Clarkson".

It said the attack lasted around 30 seconds and only stopped when a witness intervened.

The report said "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."

Mr Hall said "no blame" was attached to Mr Tymon, who, he said, "behaved with huge integrity throughout".

He added that the BBC would look to "renew" the show for next year.

Clarkson and his co-hosts, James May and Richard Hammond, were scheduled to take part in four live Top Gear shows in Norway this week, but it was announced on Sunday that they had been postponed.

All three men's contracts run out at the end of this month but Hammond and May's future is still unclear.

The BBC report said Mr Tymon, who "believed that he had lost his job" after the attack, drove himself to a "nearby A&E department for examination".

It added that Clarkson "made a number of attempts to apologise" to Mr Tymon "by way of text, email and in person".

Mr Tymon said he was "grateful" for the "thorough and swift investigation into this very regrettable incident".

He said: "I've worked on Top Gear for almost a decade, a programme I love. 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."

Paul Daniels, from law firm Slater Gordon which represents Mr Tymon, said the last month had "been a nightmare" for him.

He said: "He now simply wishes to return to the job he loves at the BBC. He does not intend to make any further media comment and kindly asks that his privacy is respected."

Here is the full statement about Jeremy Clarkson from BBC director-general, Tony Hall:

"It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract. It is not a decision I have taken lightly. I have done so only after a very careful consideration of the facts and after personally meeting both Jeremy and Oisin Tymon.

"I am grateful to Ken MacQuarrie for the thorough way he has conducted an investigation of the incident on 4 March. Given the obvious and very genuine public interest in this I am publishing the findings of his report. I take no pleasure in doing so. I am only making them public so people can better understand the background. I know how popular the programme is and I also know that this decision will divide opinion. The main facts are not disputed by those involved.

"I want to make three points.

First - The BBC is a broad church. Our strength in many ways lies in that diversity. We need distinctive and different voices but they cannot come at any price. Common to all at the BBC have to be standards of decency and respect. I cannot condone what has happened on this occasion. A member of staff - who is a completely innocent party - took himself to Accident and Emergency after a physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature. For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations.

"Second - This has obviously been difficult for everyone involved but in particular for Oisin. I want to make clear that no blame attaches to him for this incident. He has behaved with huge integrity throughout. As a senior producer at the BBC he will continue to have an important role within the organisation in the future.

"Third - Obviously none of us wanted to find ourselves in this position. This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC. I have always personally been a great fan of his work and Top Gear. Jeremy is a huge talent. He may be leaving the BBC but I am sure he will continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come.

"The BBC must now look to renew Top Gear for 2016. This will be a big challenge and there is no point in pretending otherwise. I have asked Kim Shillinglaw to look at how best we might take this forward over the coming months. I have also asked her to look at how we put out the last programmes in the current series."

Clarkson to be sacked over assault - but 'Top Gear' will remain on air 

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