Jeremy Clarkson’s contract will not be renewed after an “unprovoked physical attack” on a Top Gear producer, the BBC’s director general has confirmed.
Tony Hall said he had “not taken this decision lightly” and recognised it would “divide opinion”. However, he added “a line has been crossed” and he “cannot condone what has happened on this occasion”.
Clarkson was suspended on 10 March, following what was called a “fracas” with Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon. The row, which took place in a Yorkshire hotel, was said to have occurred because no hot food was provided for him following a day’s filming.
An internal investigation began last week, led by Ken MacQuarrie, the director of BBC Scotland. It found that Mr Tymon took himself to hospital after he was subject to an “unprovoked physical and verbal attack”. “During the physical attack Oisin Tymon was struck, resulting in swelling and bleeding to his lip. The verbal abuse was sustained over a longer period, both at the time of the physical attack and subsequently.” The verbal abuse “contained the strongest expletives and threats to sack” Mr Tymon, who believed he had lost his job, Mr MacQuarrie noted in his report. The “physical attack lasted around 30 seconds and was halted by the intervention of a witness,” he added.
Announcing his decision, Lord Hall said Clarkson’s dismissal was unavoidable after “a member of staff – who is a completely innocent party – took himself to Accident and Emergency after a physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature.
“For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations.” However, he added “This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC. I have always personally been a great fan of his work and Top Gear.”
In a statement, Mr Tymon thanked the BBC for a “thorough and swift investigation into this very regrettable incident”.
“I’ve worked on Top Gear for almost a decade, a program I love,” he continued. “Over that time Jeremy and I had a positive and successful working relationship, making some landmark projects together. He is a unique talent and I am well aware that many will be sorry his involvement in the show should end in this way.” North Yorkshire police have asked to see the BBC’s internal report, saying it will be “assessed appropriately and action will be taken… where necessary”.