Ousted Jeremy Clarkson gets on his bike as the BBC says: a line has been crossed
Jeremy Clarkson's contract will not be renewed after an internal BBC investigation concluded that the presenter launched a sustained "unprovoked physical and verbal attack" on producer Oisin Tymon.
The former Top Gear presenter is also facing another probe after North Yorkshire Police said it had asked the BBC for its report.
Tony Hall, the BBC Director-General who made the decision over Clarkson, said "a line has been crossed" after the presenter split the Irishman's lip when he was told there was no hot food available at a Yorkshire hotel after filming.
In his first public appearance since being sacked, Clarkson left his upmarket west London home on a pushbike wearing a black leather coat and a grey beanie hat last night. Riding past photographers and TV cameras, he said: "Excuse me gentlemen, thank you."
Asked by reporters what his reaction was, Clarkson said "I'm off out, sorry", before riding away.
Hall admitted that rebooting Top Gear with a new team "will be a big challenge and there is no point in pretending otherwise." It could be a challenge too far for Richard Hammond and James May, Clarkson's sidekicks.
May said: "I think we are very much the three of us as a package. It works for very complicated reasons that a lot of people don't fully understand. So that will require a lot of careful thought. Much as I think he's a k**b, I quite like working with Jeremy."
Hammond tweeted: "Gutted at such a sad end to an era. We're all three of us idiots in our different ways but it's been an incredible ride together."
Although Clarkson's £1m a year deal to present the BBC Two motoring show runs out next week, he has a second seven-figure contract with BBC Worldwide, its commercial wing.
Worldwide agreed the deal when it paid £8.4m for Clarkson's stake in a joint venture which had owned the commercial rights to Top Gear, which has been sold into 214 territories and earned more than £150m in revenues.
Worldwide has axed two Top Gear Live shows in Norway this week but thousands of ticket-holders still expect to see Clarkson (54) reunited with colleagues Hammond and May at a series of huge arena events, including Belfast's Odyssey Arena.
Downing Street said Prime Minister David Cameron, a friend of Clarkson, believes "if you do something wrong at work there can be consequences" and that "aggressive and abusive behaviour is not acceptable in the workplace".
Clarkson's fate was sealed after the inquiry by BBC Scotland boss Ken MacQuarrie found the victim of his 30-second physical assault, which was only halted by a witness, had to drive himself to A&E for treatment.
It said: "Oisin Tymon was struck, resulting in swelling and bleeding to his lip. The verbal abuse was sustained over a longer period."
Factfile: The king of controversy
November 2008: Clarkson makes a joke during an episode about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes, which attracts more than 1,000 complaints to the BBC.
January 2011: Jokes made during the show about Mexicans being branded lazy, feckless and flatulent, prompt an apology from the BBC to the Mexican ambassador.
May 2014: Clarkson is accused of using the n-word while reciting a nursery rhyme.
October 2014: The Top Gear crew is forced to flee Argentina when it emerges they were using a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL, which some suggested referred to the Falklands War.