Clarkson Debacle Remains in Top Gear
15 April 2015 by Marketing Team
Jeremy Clarkson just keeps coming up in the headlines at the moment. After pulling out at the last minute over his ‘Have I Got News For You’ hosting appearance last week, there are now rumblings that the Top Gear presenting team may be back on our screens somewhere else… or not.
The Clarkson headlines started a few weeks ago when we heard the news that the venerable yet controversial presenter come leader of the Top Gear cult, had been sacked from the show after allegedly assaulting the producer Oisin Tymon in a hotel in Yorkshire.
The alleged incident occurred after Tymon ‘failed’ to organise any hot food for the presenters after a long days filming. Clarkson, riled by his soup and selection of cold meats, went on to allegedly punch Tymon in the face and verbally abuse him.
Clarkson was suspended immediately, and after a swift investigation by the BBC, dismissed.
The General Director of the BBC, Lord Tony Hall, recognised the divisiveness of the situation and said that the choice had not been an easy one for him to make. He gave reason for his decision by explaining “There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations”.
Opposition to Clarkson’s sacking was widespread, and under 2 hours after the announcement of his dismissal an online petition for his reinstatement had over 1 million signatories.
However, it has been a long time since Clarkson’s record was clean, and since punching Piers Morgan in 2004, he has made countless racial slurs and homophobic jokes to complement his public-school bully persona.
When looking at Clarkson’s dismissal from an employment law perspective, it would have been nigh on impossible for the BBC not to dismiss him. Although it is true that in certain situations it is appropriate for an employer to implement a lesser sanction than dismissal in a case of gross misconduct, the fact that Clarkson was on his last warning, the nature of the incident, and the fact that it was in the public eye, left Lord Hall with very few options.
Love him or loathe him, you cannot deny that Clarkson is a huge entertainment asset and is largely important to the success of Top Gear, helping BBC Worldwide take in around £40m last year. It should not be too difficult for him to find work elsewhere – he was offered a job at a Russian Military TV station just hours after news of his dismissal was circulated!
His future, for now at least, seems uncertain. Last week he pulled out of a surprise return to the BBC as a guest presenter on ‘Have I Got News for You’, and a couple of days ago at a charity auction even suggested that Top Gear may well make a return in the future, outside of the BBC!
In all the headlines that have followed Clarkson’s dismissal, it is easy to forget the victim in the scenario, Mr Tymon. Tymon has received several death threats from Top Gear fans, and gone through an “extremely unpleasant” ordeal according to his lawyer. For him and many others, the outcome and the swift, efficient nature in which the BBC has dealt with the disciplinary process will have been a sigh of relief.
After a string of other incidents, Clarkson had appeared to be on his final warning for a while ? and it had always been a case of when he was going to overstep the mark for the final time. It seems that this incident was the straw the finally broke the camel’s back.
If you have any employment related matters in your workplace, Fisher Jones Greenwood can help. Contact our Employment Department on 01245 890110 or at [email protected] for advice.
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