Well it’s official, not even a million-signature petition was enough to save Jeremy Clarkson from being sacked by the BBC, after an investigation concluded he attacked a producer on the programme. A source close to the investigation, explaining the decision not to renew Clarkson’s contract, has said: “There can’t be one rule for talent and one rule for ordinary human beings.”
A report into the so-called ‘fracas’ at a North Yorkshire hotel, concluded that Clarkson spent 20 minutes verbally abusing producer Oisin Tymon, before launching into a 30 second physical assault on him. The outburst came after Clarkson, who is one of the BBC’s best paid stars, was informed he could not have steak and chips after a hard day’s filming because the hotel where they were staying had stopped serving hot food for the night.
The BBC’s full statement
“It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract. It is not a decision I have taken lightly. I have done so only after a very careful consideration of the facts and after personally meeting both Jeremy and Oisin Tymon.
I am grateful to Ken MacQuarrie for the thorough way he has conducted an investigation of the incident on 4th March. Given the obvious and very genuine public interest in this I am publishing the findings of his report. I take no pleasure in doing so. I am only making them public so people can better understand the background. I know how popular the programme is and I also know that this decision will divide opinion. The main facts are not disputed by those involved.
I want to make three points.
First – The BBC is a broad church. Our strength in many ways lies in that diversity. We need distinctive and different voices but they cannot come at any price. Common to all at the BBC have to be standards of decency and respect. I cannot condone what has happened on this occasion. 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.
Second – This has obviously been difficult for everyone involved but in particular for Oisin. I want to make clear that no blame attaches to him for this incident. He has behaved with huge integrity throughout. As a senior producer at the BBC he will continue to have an important role within the organisation in the future.
Third – Obviously none of us wanted to find ourselves in this position. 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. Jeremy is a huge talent. He may be leaving the BBC but I am sure he will continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come.
The BBC must now look to renew Top Gear for 2016. This will be a big challenge and there is no point in pretending otherwise. I have asked Kim Shillinglaw to look at how best we might take this forward over the coming months. I have also asked her to look at how we put out the last programmes in the current series.”
– Tony Hall, the BBC Director-General
Investigation findings – Ken MacQuarrie
On 9 March 2015, Jeremy Clarkson reported to BBC management that he had been involved in a physical and verbal incident with Oisin Tymon, the producer of Top Gear, at the Simonstone Hall Hotel, North Yorkshire, whilst working on location.The incident had occurred on 4 March 2015 and Jeremy Clarkson was suspended on 10 March, pending investigation.
I was asked to undertake an investigation to establish the facts of what occurred. In conducting my investigation, in line with the BBC’s usual practice, I interviewed a number of witnesses and others connected with the incident. Accounts were agreed, based on my interviews, with each participant.
Having conducted these interviews and considered the evidence presented, I conclude the following: on 4 March 2015 Oisin Tymon was subject to an unprovoked physical and verbal attack by Jeremy Clarkson. 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.
Specific facts I have found as part of my investigation are as follows:
- earlier on 4 March, studio recording of Top Gear had taken place in Surrey and the presenters had travelled that same evening to the location shoot in North Yorkshire;
- the incident occurred on a patio area of the Simonstone Hall Hotel, where Oisin Tymon was working on location for Top Gear;
- the physical attack lasted around 30 seconds and was halted by the intervention of a witness;
- it is the case that Oisin Tymon offered no retaliation;
- the verbal abuse was directed at Oisin Tymon on more than one occasion – both during the attack and subsequently inside the hotel – and contained the strongest expletives and threats to sack him. The abuse was at such volume as to be heard in the dining room, and the shouting was audible in a hotel bedroom;
- derogatory and abusive language, relating to Oisin Tymon and other members of the Top Gear team, continued to be used by Jeremy Clarkson inside the hotel, in the presence of others, for a sustained period of time;
- it is clear that Oisin Tymon was shocked and distressed by the incident, and believed that he had lost his job;
- following the attack, I understand that Oisin Tymon drove to a nearby A&E department for examination;
- over the subsequent days, Jeremy Clarkson made a number of attempts to apologise to Oisin Tymon by way of text, email and in person; and it is the case that Jeremy Clarkson reported the incident to BBC management.
It was not disputed by Jeremy Clarkson or any witness that Oisin Tymon was the victim of an unprovoked physical and verbal attack. It is also clear to me that Oisin Tymon is an important creative member of the Top Gear team who is well-valued and respected. He has suffered significant personal distress as a result of this incident, through no fault of his own.
James May – “The three of us are a package”
Richard Hammond on Twitter – “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.”
Former Stig Perry McCarthy
Despite finally deciding to axe Clarkson as the show’s lead presenter, the BBC is planning to continue broadcasting Top Gear on BBC2. It is not immediately clear whether Richard Hammond and James May will sign back on with a new lead presenter, as without Clarkson the show will no doubt begin a ratings nose dive. Will you be watching?
There isn’t much else to say right now, other than that it is a sad day for Top Gear fans. The show as we know it is officially over after a 174 episode run, spanning across 13 years. It was one hell of a ride and I’d like to thank Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May, Andy Wilman and the rest of the Top Gear team for producing one of the best shows the world has ever seen.