Top Gear’s motormouth puts his foot in it

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

LON­DON: Top Gear’s Jeremy Clark­son has been forced to apol­o­gise af­ter a joke he made about ex­e­cut­ing pub­lic sec­tor work­ers for strik­ing trig­gered a po­lit­i­cal row and thou­sands of com­plaints in the UK.

The out­spo­ken TV pre­sen­ter had re­marked that pub­lic sec­tor strik­ers should be “ex­e­cuted” in front of their fam­i­lies.

One union of­fi­cial threat­ened to re­port him to po­lice, while an­other said his com­ments were wor­thy of Libya’s Muam­mar Gaddafi.

Even UK Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron, a friend of Clark­son, was dragged into the row, de­scrib­ing the re­marks as “silly”, while Labour leader Ed Miliband said they were “dis­gust­ing”.

The BBC re­ceived al­most 5 000 com­plaints about the in­ter­view on Wed­nes­day.

Mil­lions of view­ers had seen the Top Gear host give his views on the day’s na­tion­wide strikes on The One Show.

He said he liked the strik­ers, be­cause the strike had meant there was no traf­fic on the roads.

But af­ter in­sist­ing he had to be bal­anced as he worked for the im­par­tial BBC, he launched into a satir­i­cal rant.

He said: “Frankly, I would have them shot. I would have them taken out­side and ex­e­cuted in front of their fam­i­lies.”

Later in the show, he also com­plained about peo­ple who com­mit­ted sui­cide by throw­ing them­selves on rail­way lines, say­ing trains should not stop for them.

Cameron disas­so­ci­ated him­self from the com­ments.

Cameron said: “It was a silly thing to say – I’m sure he didn’t mean it.”

Miliband said the re­mark was “ab­so­lutely dis­grace­ful and dis­gust­ing”.

The unions ex­ploded in fury, call­ing on the BBC to sack the pre­sen­ter and con­tact­ing lawyers to con­sider whether he could be re­ported to the po­lice for in­cit­ing vi­o­lence.

Dave Pren­tis, Uni­son’s gen­eral sec­re­tary, said: ‘‘While he is driv­ing round in fast cars for a liv­ing, pub­lic sec­tor work­ers are busy hold­ing our so­ci­ety to­gether. They save oth­ers’ lives on a daily ba­sis, they care for the sick, the vul­ner­a­ble, the el­derly.

“They wipe bot­toms, noses, they help chil­dren to learn, and empty bins – they de­serve all our thanks – cer­tainly not the un­be­liev­able level of abuse he threw at them.”

Uni­son health spokesman Karen Jen­nings de­scribed the com­ments as “al­most like Gaddafi”.

Bob Crow, leader of the RMT union, said Clark­son was a “man who bleeds a for­tune out of the li­cence-payer for ponc­ing around the world driv­ing lux­ury cars”.

Bert Schouwen­burg, of the GMB union, said: “GMB works with trade unions rep­re­sent­ing em­ploy­ees on banana and pineap­ple plan­ta­tions in Latin Amer­ica, where ac­tivists have met ex­actly the fate that Mr Clark­son de­scribes.”

When Clark­son was asked for his re­ac­tion be­fore fly­ing out of the coun­try, he said: “I didn’t for a mo­ment in­tend these re­marks to be taken se­ri­ously – as I be­lieve is clear if they’re seen in con­text.

“If the BBC and I have caused any of­fence, I’m quite happy to apol­o­gise for it along­side them,” said Clark­son.

The BBC said: “The One Show is a live top­i­cal pro­gramme which of­ten re­flects the day’s talk­ing points. Usu­ally we get it right, but on this oc­ca­sion we feel the item was not per­fectly judged.

“The BBC and Jeremy would like to apol­o­gise for any of­fence caused.”

Clark­son’s com­ments have reg­u­larly landed him in hot water. – Daily Mail

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

OUT­SPO­KEN: Top Gear pre­sen­ter Jeremy Clark­son speaks to a mem­ber of his crew while film­ing a seg­ment out­side 10 Down­ing Street in Lon­don.

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