Updated 10:00, March 13
JEREMY CLARKSON reported himself to Danny Cohen, the BBC’s director of television, after the so-called “fracas” with a Top Gear producer.
No complaint was made by the alleged victim after the incident, in which Clarkson is reported to have punched Oisin Tymon after demanding steak rather than the cold platter of cheese or meat on offer at a North Yorkshire hotel. The incident occurred following a long day of filming last Wednesday.
Sue Ward, 54, who says she overheard Clarkson at Simonstone Hall hotel, Hawes, told Sky News: “He said he [Tymon] hadn’t done his job properly – it was ridiculous that there was nothing to eat. Obviously there was lots of expletives in between all this.”
At a staff meeting on Monday, Clarkson told the programme’s crew about the incident and informed them that he had contacted Cohen, The Times reported. A disciplinary process then began, which led to Clarkson’s suspension, the cancelling of Wednesday’s filming session, the postponement of the next two episodes … and concerns about the enormous commercial implications for the BBC.
Clarkson has received a summons to a disciplinary hearing. Lord Hall, the BBC director-general, indicated yesterday that the presenter would come face to face with Tymon during the inquiry.
“We have to get the people who are impacted by this together,” Hall said. “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.”
Support for Clarkson continues to grow. At the time of writing, more than 932,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that the BBC reinstate Jeremy Clarkson.
The outpouring of support for the beleaguered Top Gear host will increase the pressure on BBC bosses to conclude their investigation into the alleged “fracas” as soon as possible and make a decision about the future of the show.
The ‘ding-dong’ gripping a nation
- The alleged altercation between Clarkson and a producer occurred in Yorkshire after the presenter “flipped” when told that there was no hot food available after a long day’s filming
- James May, Clarkson’s co-host, questioned whether a punch had been thrown, describing the incident as “a bit of a dust-up”
- Negotiations over a new three-year contract between the three presenters and the BBC, which was due to be signed off this month, have been suspended
- ITV was reported to be preparing a £10m bid for the show
- The BBC faces a multimillion-pound bill from foreign broadcasters seeking compensation for the cancelled shows
- David Cameron entered the debate, describing Clarkson as a “great talent” and saying he hoped the BBC could sort it out
- Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, said that the onus was on the BBC to decide Clarkson’s future
- Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, said he was a fan of Top Gear but added: “If I punched one of our officials, I think I would be in considerable hot water”
- Maria Miller, a Conservative MP and former culture secretary, expressed support for Clarkson, saying that “the BBC needs to be better at managing its talent”
- Ken MacQuarrie, the BBC executive who oversaw the investigation of the Newsnight edition that falsely accused the late Conservative peer Lord McAlpine of being involved in child abuse, is to head the disciplinary panel that will decide Clarkson’s fate.