Clarkson dropped from ‘Top Gear’ as police assess BBC report

BBC director general says presenter ‘crossed line’ in unprovoked attack on Irish producer

Jeremy Clarkson rides his bicycle in London while being chased by reporters after the BBC drops the 'Top Gear' motoring show presenter after finding he had physically attacked a producer. Video: Reuters

 

A BBC internal report has said broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson did not dispute he had launched “an unprovoked physical and verbal attack” on Irish man Oisín Tymon.

It was announced yesterday that Top Gear presenter Clarkson will not have his contract renewed by the BBC following the controversy surrounding the incident involving his colleague.

Clarkson also faces possible criminal action as North Yorkshire Police have asked to see the BBC’s report into the attack, with a police spokeswoman saying “The information will be assessed appropriately and action will be taken by North Yorkshire Police where necessary.

“It would not be appropriate for North Yorkshire Police to comment further at this time.”

Clarkson’s departure from the motoring programme, which is the BBC’s single-biggest international earner and enjoys a 350 million-strong global audience, could now see his fellow presenters, James May and Richard Hammond, also leave.

Announcing the decision, the BBC’s director general Tony Hall said he had decided with “great regret” that the BBC would not renew Clarkson’s three-year contract: “It is not a decision I have taken lightly.”

Clarkson’s fate was sealed, according to BBC sources, because the corporation’s head of television Danny Cohen had finally lost patience with the presenter following a series of controversies.

BBC report on Clarkson 'fracas'

On March 4th, 2015, the Top Gear team had spent the day filming in Surrey, before travelling to North Yorkshire, where they were booked into the Simonstone Hall in Hawes.

During a 30-second physical attack that took place on the hotel’s patio, which ended when a fellow guest intervened, Clarkson struck Tymon leaving him “with swelling and bleeding to his lip”, according to the inquiry held by the head of BBC Scotland, Ken MacQuarrie.

Later, inside the hotel, Clarkson resumed his verbal abuse of Tymon: “It 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.”

The “derogatory and abusive language”, which was directed at Tymon but also referred to other members of the Top Gear team, continued in “the presence of others, for a sustained period of time”, a summary of the MacQuarrie report declares.

Clarkson tried to apologise “by way of text, email and in person” over the next few days and reported the incident himself to BBC management; neither did he dispute Tymon’s account of what had happened.

“It is also clear to me that Oisín Tymon is an important creative member of the Top Gear team who is well-valued and respected. He has suffered significant personal distress as a result of this incident, through no fault of his own,” said MacQuarrie.

Up until three years ago, the Top Gear franchise was a joint venture between BBC Worldwide, which held a half-share, Clarkson with 30 per cent and the series’ producer Andy Wilman, with 20 per cent.

However, the BBC then bought out Clarkson and Wilman, paying them £8.4 million and £5.6 million respectively, so it now owns all of the intellectual property rights and revenues of the show.

‘Sad end’

Hammond, who had been scheduled to spend this week in Norway appearing in four now-postponed live Top Gear programmes, described Clarkson’s exit “as a sad end of an era”.

Hall said that while nobody wanted Clarkson to leave this way, adding that “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”.