Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson is said to be “intensely relaxed” about the inquiry into his “fracas” with a Top Gear producer, amid suggestions that the victim of the suspended BBC presenter’s alleged punch has yet to lodge an official complaint.
Mr Clarkson is alleged to have thrown a punch at Oisin Tymon over the producer’s failure to secure a late-night steak dinner for the presenter at a Yorkshire hotel during filming. However, friends of Mr Clarkson say there is “no bad blood” between the pair and no official complaint has been made after the presenter offered his apologies.
The BBC inquiry may fail to produce sufficient evidence to demonstrate sackable misconduct on Mr Clarkson’s part, if Mr Tymon’s account spares the presenter of blame.
It has emerged that it was Mr Clarkson himself who first reported the incident to Danny Cohen, the director of television, on Monday. The presenter was aware that the “fracas” had caused upset among some of the Top Gear team and chose to give his version of the incident to BBC bosses before news leaked.
Richard Littlejohn, the Daily Mail columnist and a friend of Mr Clarkson, wrote: “My understanding is that Tymon hasn’t made an official complaint. Clarkson denies punching him, but admits there was ‘contact’ and has apologised profusely. It’s the kind of thing which happens when people are living under pressure in each other’s pockets. Dressing room fisticuffs are not unknown among rock stars or on rugby tours. Normally what happens on tour stays on tour.”
Mr Littlejohn accused Mr Cohen, who has previously clashed with Mr Clarkson, of seizing “an irresistible opportunity to dispose of his bête noire once and for all”.
Mr Clarkson is said to be confident about the outcome of the disciplinary process. His critics believe he is seeking to use support in the media to try to smooth over a bout of unacceptable behaviour.
This Sunday’s Top Gear has been cancelled along with the remaining episodes of the current BBC2 series. The failure to deliver episodes of the BBC’s most lucrative factual entertainment format to overseas broadcasters could cost the Corporation millions of pounds.
With Mr Clarkson’s contract due to run out in April, some within the BBC are pushing for a swift decision on his future. An online petition calling for his reinstatement has more than 700,000 signatories.
Mr Tymon, who has worked with Mr Clarkson for seven years and produced more than 75 episodes of Top Gear, will give his account at a disciplinary hearing, to which the presenter has been summoned.