London - A row erupted on Wednesday night after Jeremy Clarkson claimed that an Argentine airport worker kicked him off a flight from Germany. The former Top Gear presenter said he was barred from boarding the plane by a “bitter” employee who told him “I’m from Argentina, so f*** you”.
The remark was apparently in response to an episode of the programme filmed in South America in 2014, which included a car number plate that seemingly referred to the Falklands War.
However German officials insisted that Clarkson and fellow stars, James May and Richard Hammond, simply missed their flight from Stuttgart to the UK because they ignored boarding calls. The airport also said the employee was Spanish, not Argentine.
Clarkson - who had been filming for his new Amazon show, The Grand Tour, in Europe - said he and his colleagues were about to board the BA flight back to Heathrow on Monday when they were stopped at the departure gate by airport worker Manuel Pereira.
The 56-year-old told The Sun: “Our security guys turned round and said ‘They’re not letting us on’. I said to this little guy, ‘What’s the problem?’ He had a big smile and said, ‘You’ve missed it’. We said we had left the lounge when we were told, and he said, ‘I’m from Argentina, so f*** you’. Hammond and our producer also heard him. It was disgraceful.”
The presenter added: “This ignorant little worm made us miss our plane. The police said it was a hate crime and he would be arrested. Even the Germans were on our side.”
Clarkson claimed the man’s colleagues “were suggesting we were too drunk”, but he said they had only had one can of beer. The team took an easyJet flight to Gatwick instead.
A different version of events
However police gave a different version of events. Christian Worner, from the Reutlingen police department, said the Grand Tour team “paused in the lounge and did not hear the call for the flight to London”.
He added: “Mr Clarkson did not want to accept this and there was a verbal dispute with the airport employee.”
He said that Mr Pereira was “definitely not Argentinian”, adding that it was “not comprehensible” to link the incident to the Top Gear controversy in Argentina in 2014.
A diplomatic incident was sparked in Argentina two years ago when the Top Gear team drove a car with the number plate H982 FKL, which locals saw as a reference to the 1982 Falklands War. The show claimed the plate was a coincidence.
Stuttgart Airport spokesman Johannes Schumm said: “We do already know that the employee mentioned is Spanish, not Argentinian.
“In this case Clarkson and his team missed several calls in the lounge while the other passengers had already boarded. After a certain time, the luggage will be removed and the missing passengers will be withdrawn from the passenger list. From this point there is no chance of boarding.”
But he added that the incident would be investigated.
Mr Pereira told the newspaper that he did not swear or behave offensively, adding: “I would never say such a thing.”
Clarkson was sacked from BBC’s Top Gear last year after he punched a producer in a row over hot food.