September 22, 2020

Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson ‘intensely relaxed’ over BBC suspension

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fcca6468-0136-4562-ac18-194c74723420-620x372By John Plunkett From The Guardian

BBC director general says he ‘needs facts’ on the presenter’s fracas with a producer and there is no timeline for the internal inquiry

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson was said to be “intensely relaxed” about the inquiry into his alleged “fracas” with a producer, as the BBC’s director general refused to put a deadline on the investigation.

A source close to the presenter said Clarkson was confident about the outcome of the disciplinary process after he was suspended following allegations that he punched a member of the production team after filming on location in Newcastle last week.

“Jeremy is intensely relaxed about being suspended,” said the source.

BBC director general Tony Hall said on Thursday there was no timetable for Clarkson’s disciplinary hearing and refused to speculate what might happen to the presenter, whose contract with the corporation runs out this month.

Asked when it would take place, Hall said: “I can’t tell you. We have got to get the people who are impacted by this together. We began that work yesterday.

“There is a lot of speculation, we have got to establish the facts and I intend to do that before we come to a final decision. That is what we are about to do.”
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Hall said there was “no timeline” to the inquiry. “We have got to make sure we get all the key people together and find out what happened,” he said following a BBC digital event in central London.

“I am not going to speculate [what will happen to Clarkson]. The first task is to get the facts and once you’ve got the facts then you can make decisions, but I need facts.”

The corporation’s internal inquiry into the incident will be overseen by Ken MacQuarrie, the BBC executive responsible for the investigation into the disastrous Newsnight edition that falsely accused late Tory peer Lord McAlpine of being involved in the north Wales child abuse scandal.

Neither Clarkson nor the BBC, which initially said Clarkson had been suspended after a “fracas”, would comment on reports that the presenter punched producer Oisin Tymon when no hot food was available after a day’s filming.

Top Gear co-presenter James May described it as a “bit of a dust-up”. Clarkson was later reported to have told friends that he did not punch Tymon, but that there had been some “handbags and pushing”.
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Hall has previously stood by Clarkson, over-ruling BBC director of television Danny Cohen who wanted to take disciplinary action after the presenter mumbled the N-word in a Top Gear outtake last year. Clarkson later said he had been given his final warning by BBC management.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said it was up to the BBC to decide Clarkson’s future. “The guy’s obviously incredibly popular and the show that he does provides entertainment to millions of people, but who is responsible for determining whether he carries on or not is his employers,” he told LBC.

Clegg, speaking a day after David Cameron said his children would be “heartbroken” if Top Gear was taken off air, added: “I don’t know what happened in this cold/hot meal fracas. He is an employee of the BBC, they are his boss and so if they think he has done something wrong … then it is for them to decide.”

Ukip leader Nigel Farage told LBC: “I’m quite certain that if, as Ukip party leader, I punched one of our officials, I think I would be in considerable hot water.

“I do enjoy Top Gear, it’s very entertaining. Deliberately provocative and controversial and whenever I sit down and watch it I always laugh.”

Asked if he could replace Clarkson, he replied: “It’s a lovely idea.”

IMAGE: Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson watches Chelsea play Paris St Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

For more on this story go to: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/mar/12/top-gear-jeremy-clarkson-suspension-bbc

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