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Sunday 20 August 2017

‘Furious’ Jeremy Clarkson calls in his lawyers over Jimmy Savile comments

Jeremy Clarkson outside his London home. The 'Top Gear' star has been suspended by the BBC over alllegations he struck Irish producer Oisin Tymon
Jeremy Clarkson outside his London home. The 'Top Gear' star has been suspended by the BBC over alllegations he struck Irish producer Oisin Tymon
Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson was suspended on Tuesday

Jeremy Clarkson has instructed lawyers to demand an immediate retraction from the BBC after a senior employee compared him to Jimmy Savile, it has emerged.

The Top Gear host is said to be furious about the “defamatory” smear and is determined to identity the executive behind it. The allegations quoted a BBC chief “directly involved in the fallout” surrounding Clarkson’s suspension following his row with Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon.

The source said that politicians – including UK Prime Minister David Cameron – were turning a blind eye to Clarkson’s bad behaviour, in the same way as people once did with notorious paedophile Savile.

Mr Cameron, who is a close friend of Clarkson, has publicly defended the star, saying his children would be heartbroken if Top Gear was taken off air.

READ MORE: Jeremy Clarkson is cleared of racism by BBC over 'pikey' sign on Top Gear

BBC chiefs have insisted that they still needs to determine the facts about Clarkson’s “fracas” before making any decisions about his future.

“The most important thing ... is to gather the facts around you and not listen to all the speculation,” a spokesman said.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the outspoken star could be back on screen in May, when he has been booked to host satirical news quiz Have I Got News For You.

The BBC is holding an internal investigation into Clarkson’s “fracas” with Tymon this week and is expected to announce its decision within days.

Although the television show has been taken off air, Clarkson and his co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May are said to be exploring ways in which they can go ahead with a number of upcoming Top Gear Live arena shows.

Meanwhile, Clarkson was not being racist when he used the word “pikey” on the popular show, the BBC Trust has ruled.

The presenter put up a placard with the words Pikey’s Peak on the BBC2 series in February last year.

But the Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) concluded that the word had been used to mean “cheap”, rather than as a term of racist or ethnic abuse.

A spokesman for the Traveller Movement rejected the decision, saying: “We are horrified by the BBC’s green lighting of the use of the word ‘pikey’.”

Its decision came as Clarkson raised more eyebrows with his column in Top Gear magazine, when he discussed immigrant taxi drivers in London, saying that their cars smell “faintly of lavender and sick”.

The BBC Trust ruling comes after viewers complained that the Pikey’s Peak sign was “grossly offensive and racist”.

In the episode, which compared hatchback cars from the 1980s with their contemporary equivalent, Clarkson and James May joked about co-presenter Richard Hammond’s lack of style when he selected a Vauxhall Nova.

The stars then completed a circuit on a race course and Clarkson was seen putting up the handmade placard on a wooden hut.

Programme makers said that the use of the sign was also a pun on the name of the US racecourse Pikes Peak.

A spokesman for the Traveller Movement said: “The claim that it has evolved a new meaning and that most people do not realise it has any reference at all with gypsies and travellers is absolute rubbish.”

hnews@herald.ie

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