Belfast Telegraph

Clarkson controversies pile up

Suspended star Jeremy Clarkson is continuing to embarrass the BBC with claims of racism, his views on immigrant taxi drivers and a potential appearance on another of its top-rating shows.

The BBC Trust has just cleared the presenter of racism over his use of the word "pikey" but his career at the corporation remains on hold while claims he punched a producer in a row over food are investigated.

The Trust's decision was criticised by The Traveller Movement and Clarkson is also likely to face cr iticism over his latest column for Top Gear Magazine where he complains that London taxis with immigrant drivers smell of "sick".

The BBC Trust report said Clarkson, whose future is in doubt following a "fracas" with producer Oisin Tymon, put up a placard with the words Pikey's Peak on the BBC2 series in February last year.

But the Trust's Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) concluded the word was used to mean "cheap", rather than as a term of racist or ethnic abuse.

A spokesman for the Traveller Movement rejected the decision, saying: "We are horrified by the BBC's green lighting of the use of the word 'pikey' by the Top Gear presenters".

The BBC Trust ruling comes after viewers complained the sign was "grossly offensive and racist" to the "gypsy traveller community", whose children are subjected to the word as a term of abuse in schools.

Clarkson, who is set to host the BBC's top-rating satire show Have I Got News For You, raised more eyebrows with his column in Top Gear magazine.

Written before the incident involving the producer, Clarkson gave his views on immigrant taxi drivers and suggested that the roads were full of immigrant drivers in the north.

"In London, there are two types of driver. You have a chap who's just arrived from a country you've never heard of, whose car smells faintly of lavender oil and sick, who doesn't know where he's going and can't get there anyway because he never puts more than £2 worth of fuel in the tank of his car," he wrote.

"Then you have someone in a suit in a smart black Mercedes S-Class who does know where he's going and is very polite but he charges around £7,500 a mile."

On driving on the M1, he added: "Then you're in the North, which means that you are jockeying for position in the outside lane with half a million overseas-registered Dacias which are being driven by people who've never experienced tarmac before and think that the speed limit is the top speed of their car. Which is about 42."

BBC bosses also face the prospect of further embarrassment after it emerged Clarkson is set to host its top-rating satire show Have I Got News For You in May.

Jimmy Mulville from production company Hat-Trick, which makes the show, told the Broadcasting Press Guild that he thought Clarkson was "a fantastic broadcaster".

He said: " As far as I'm concerned he is hosting Have I Got News for You, the BBC has not told me what to do yet and it will be an interesting conversation".

He joked: "Maybe we will get the producer on so he can hit Jeremy Clarkson live on television."

The BBC declined to comment on whether Clarkson's suspension, if it were still in force, would cover an appearance on a separate show.

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