Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Phillips dismisses Top Gear slur

Top Gear presenters Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May are at the centre of a row over comments made about Mexico

Equality chief Trevor Phillips has dismissed the Top Gear slur on Mexico as a "bit of schoolboy provocation".

The Equality and Human Rights Commission chairman went on to say Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond were "brilliant talents" as he reacted to anger over the hosts' comments about "feckless" and "lazy" Mexicans.

Mr Phillips refused to condemn the show's presenters as he said "getting into a ruck with Clarkson" would only add to the programme's carefully sculpted notoriety.

Delivering a speech on equality in Westminster, Mr Phillips said the commission did not need to take action.

"They have created a set of on-screen cartoon characters which from my brief experience of meeting Clarkson are nothing like the real people," he said.

"But they do the job they're supposed to do - get millions of people to watch a bunch of middle-aged blokes mucking about with cars."

The Mexican ambassador complained to the BBC about "outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults" made on the show after Hammond joked that Mexican cars reflected national characteristics, saying they were "just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent".

May described Mexican food as "like sick with cheese on it" and Clarkson predicted they would not get any complaints about the show because "at the Mexican embassy, the ambassador is going to be sitting there with a remote control like this (snores). They won't complain, it's fine".

But Mr Phillips added: "Getting into a ruck with Clarkson over what he says about one group of people or another won't change anyone's mind or tackle prejudice.

"Both the Top Gear Tendency, which bangs on about obnoxious feminists, and the PC lobby which wants the commission to be a strident, boot-faced, politically correct thought police, are now just hanging on at the fringes of public life," he said. "Britain has moved on. So we too have to move on, adopting an approach which learns from the past but is designed for the future."

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