Tuesday 12 December 2017

Jeremy Clarkson: TV Watchdog launches inquiry into execution of public sector strikers rant

Andrew Hough

JEREMY Clarkson, the BBC’s Top Gear presenter, has been placed under investigation by the television watchdog over his comments calling for public sector strikers to be executed.

British regulator Ofcom has announced an investigation into the Top Gear presenter after he said that striking public sector workers should be executed in front of their families.

The 51 year-old host of the cult BBC Two show, caused outrage when he made the comments on the corporation’s popular The One Show, during the national strikes last month.

The veteran television presenter and newspaper columnist also complained about being delayed by people throwing themselves in front of trains.

He later apologised for the remarks.

Despite the public broadcaster also issuing a swift apology, the comments led to more than 21,000 complaints to the BBC and almost 800 to Ofcom.

It was the third most-complained about television show this year to Ofcom, prompting an investigation.

On Monday Ofcom said it was investigating the comments under broadcasting rules on ''generally accepted standards''.

''Ofcom has taken the decision to investigate comments made by Jeremy Clarkson on BBC1's The One Show,'' a spokesman said. ''We will make the outcome of the investigation known in due course.''

Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, and Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC, also came under fire in Parliament last week over comments made by Mr Clarkson.

Lord Patten, said Clarkson is one of the UK's leading "cultural" exports.

The TV regulator is also investigating other comments, in which he described people who kill themselves at railway stations as causing ''immense'' disruption to commuters.

The remarks about strikers led to condemnation by union leaders and politicians, with David Cameron, the Prime Minister branding Clarkson's comments ''silly''.

His gaffe came as he appeared on the BBC ONE show on the evening of Britain's biggest public sector strikes for 30 years.

Speaking about the strikers, he said: ''I'd have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.

''I mean, how dare they go on strike when they've got these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed while the rest of us have to work for a living?''

Clarkson later said in a statement that his comments were not meant to have been taken seriously.

''I didn't for a moment intend these remarks to be taken seriously – as I believe is clear if they're seen in context,'' he said.

''If the BBC and I have caused any offence, I'm quite happy to apologise for it alongside them.''

But in a later interview he appeared to be taking the matter less seriously, when he also apologised to sparrows, after saying he did not like them during The One Show.

The BBC said the item ''wasn't perfectly judged''.

Earlier this year the BBC apologised about an item on BBC2's Top Gear which led to the Mexican ambassador complaining about the ''outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults'' made about Mexicans by Clarkson and co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond.

The BBC's editorial complaints unit upheld criticisms of the show and ruled that it reinforced stereotypes. In February 2009, Clarkson called Gordon Brown, the former Prime Minister, a ''one-eyed Scottish idiot''.

In November the previous year, the BBC received almost 2,000 complaints when he joked about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes.

A BBC spokeswoman declined to comment. A spokesman for Clarkson was unavailable for comment.


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