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Clarkson off hook for 'shoot' comment

Controversial comment did not breach any broadcasting rules, the BBC has ruled. Picture: Neil Baynes

Controversial comment did not breach any broadcasting rules, the BBC has ruled. Picture: Neil Baynes

Published Feb 21, 2012


Jeremy Clarkson, presenter of popular BBC auto show “Top Gear,” did not breach broadcasting rules when he suggested that striking public sector workers be shot, the British television watchdog has ruled.

Ofcom launched the probe after 31 700 people complained following the motor journalist's quip, made on the BBC1 light entertainment programme “The One Show,” that he would take striking workers and “execute them in front of their families.”

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Clarkson later apologised after trade unions threatened legal action and Prime Minister David Cameron branded him “silly.”

Ofcom said the comments were “potentially offensive” but had to be judged in context.

The presenter of the global hit show initially praised the November 30 strike, saying it had led to clear roads, but then made the controversial remark in an apparent satire of BBC's strict impartiality laws.

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Ofcom said that because of Clarkson's high profile, viewers of the live show, which was aired on the evening of the mass walkout, were well aware that he was liable to make “potentially controversial or offensive statements.”

It also concluded “that his comments were not an expression of seriously held beliefs.”

Karen Jennings of Britain's largest public sector trade union Unison said Clarkson had spoken “almost like (late Libyan leader Moamer) Kadhafi would have spoken about demonstrators.”

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“It's an incitement to hatred,” she added shortly after the remarks were made.

In a statement issued at the time, Clarkson 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.”

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Clarkson previously caused outrage when he described former prime minister Gordon Brown, who lost his sight in one eye in an accident suffered while playing rugby as a teenager, as a “one-eyed Scottish idiot.”

In February, the BBC apologised to the Mexican ambassador to London after the “Top Gear” presenters described Mexicans as “lazy,” “feckless” and “flatulent.” -AFP

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