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BBC chief defends Jeremy Clarkson before MPs

BBC Director General Mark Thompson has defended Jeremy Clarkson but admitted the Top Gear host was a “polarising figure” for viewers.

Clarkson was forced to apologise earlier this month after saying striking public sector workers should be shot during an appearance on The One Show on BBC1.

Mr Thompson told the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee that Clarkson's comments were “not intended to be taken seriously” and that he would not be sacked.

Challenged by committee member Jim Sheridan to sack Clarkson, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said: “Were we to sack him for saying something stupid that would set precedents that mean a lot of people would never get to broadcast.”

Mr Thompson added: “Although clearly he's a polarising figure for the BBC, there are many millions of people who enjoy and support Jeremy Clarkson.”

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