Belfast Telegraph

Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson suspended by BBC: remaining three episodes in series cancelled following 'fracas' with producer

BY ADAM SHERWIN

Jeremy Clarkson may have presented his final edition of Top Gear after the BBC suspended the controversial presenter following an alleged altercation with a producer.

The incident is believed to relate to a single punch thrown by Clarkson at a male producer during a dispute last week.

The remaining three Top Gear episodes in the current series have now been postponed.

Both Clarkson and the BBC have agree to make no further comment about the circumstances surrounding the suspension.

It is the latest in a string of incidents surrounding the outspoken presenter. Clarkson was already on a final warning from the BBC following accusations of racism.

Danny Cohen, the BBC’s director of television, who had previously warned Clarkson that “no one person is bigger than the BBC”, is believed to have ordered the suspension, after receiving reports of the incident.

The BBC said: “Following a fracas with a BBC producer Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation. No one else has been suspended. Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday. The BBC will be making no further comment at this time.”

The cancelled Top Gear episode features Clarkson, 54, driving a Fiat 124 Spider and a guest appearance from Gary Lineker as the “star in a reasonably priced car”.

With just two further episodes in the current series due to be screened, Top Gear may not reappear with its current line-up of Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May unless the presenter is cleared. Clarkson was placed on his “final warning” last year following a racism row after claims that he mumbled the word “n*****” while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe during the show’s filming.

Ofcom rapped Clarkson when he appeared to mock Thai people during a Top Gear show last year by making a joke using the racist term “slope”.

Clarkson, who has fronted the show since 2002, was saved from earlier disciplinary action over his use of the n-word by the intervention of Tony Hall, the BBC Director-General.

Mr Cohen was minded to suspend Clarkson at the very least, but Mr Hall stepped in and said Clarkson should be given a final warning. “If I make one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time, I will be sacked,” Clarkson revealed.

Clarkson and his presenting team were then forced to flee Argentina amid threats from locals who believed a number plate they used when filming last year’s Christmas special was an offensive reference to the country’s defeat in the 1982 Falklands War.

Mr Cohen is believed to have demanded immediate action over the latest incident since it stemmed from a disturbance involving another BBC employee. The incident came to light while the Top Gear presenters are believed to be in negotiations over a new contract.

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