Sunday 18 March 2018

Top Gear team face jail over Falklands car row

Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson's hopes of putting the infamous Top Gear Falklands row behind him were dashed last night after a court probe was reopened in Argentina.

A judge in the southern city of Ushuaia had thwarted attempts to have the former BBC presenter charged with falsification in April, after the controversial number-plate on the Porsche he drove was swapped ahead of a riot.

But state prosecutors appealed Maria Cristina Barrionuevo's decision not to press ahead with a full-scale criminal investigation against Clarkson and his ex-Top Gear team.

Last night, the probe was back on - and Clarkson and programme chiefs are facing a worst case scenario of three years in prison - after three appeal judges sided with prosecutors and ordered Barrionuevo to reactivate the case.

"Hand on heart, I can't say this enough, it wasn't deliberate."

The decision raises the real prospect of the high-profile presenter and his former Top Gear co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May being summoned to give evidence in the city they fled in October last year before programme technicians and camera crews were caught in violent disturbances as they tried to escape to Chile.

Falklands war veteran Osvaldo Hillar, who prompted the court probe by filing an official complaint over the number-plate change on Clarkson's car, has already been called to give evidence.

Clarkson sparked anger last year after driving through Argentina on a 1,400-mile road trip for a Top Gear Christmas special in a red Porsche with the number plate H982 FKL on it.

War vets accused Clarkson, who once drove through an Indian slum in a Jaguar fitted with a toilet, of goading them over the Falklands. An Argentine politician also claimed that the digits 269 on the number plate of the Ford Mustang Richard Hammond drove were close to the 255 Britons killed during the war - and the numbers 646 on James May's Lotus could be taken as a reference to the 649 Argentinian casualties.

The Top Gear team ended up having to cut short filming and flee the country with a police escort after being told to leave by angry locals who stormed their five-star hotel in Ushuaia and threatened to kill him.

Clarkson and his co-hosts flew to the capital Buenos Aires before returning to Britain.

Irish Independent

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