BBC drops 'Top Gear' presenter Clarkson over attack

Wed Mar 25, 2015 6:23pm EDT
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By Estelle Shirbon

LONDON (Reuters) - The BBC on Wednesday dropped British "Top Gear" motoring show presenter Jeremy Clarkson, who built a global fan base while repeatedly causing offense with strongly worded views, after finding he had physically attacked a producer.

The fate of Clarkson, 54, had been the subject of feverish speculation in Britain and beyond since he was suspended on March 10 following what the publicly funded broadcaster initially described as "a fracas".

Releasing more details on Wednesday, the BBC said Clarkson had struck producer Oisin Tymon, resulting in swelling and bleeding to his lip, and also subjected him to "prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature". Tymon later went to hospital.

"It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract," Tony Hall, the BBC's director-general, said in a statement.

"For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated either by rank, or public relations and commercial considerations," said Hall.

Top Gear, which is aired in more than 200 countries, is one of the BBC's biggest money spinners with sales worth some 50 million pounds ($74.4 million) a year for its commercial arm.

Those Clarkson has offended over the years include environmental groups, mental health and disability charities, cyclists, truck drivers, Indians, Germans, Mexicans and Argentinians. Many supporters see him as victim of a "politically correct" culture too eager to take offense.

Police in the northern English county of North Yorkshire, where the incident took place, said they had asked the BBC for its detailed findings. Police would then assess the information and take action "where necessary", a statement said.   Continued...

British television presenter Jeremy Clarkson leaves his home in west London March 25, 2015.   REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett