25 Mar 2015

Jeremy Clarkson: how the Top Gear scandal unfolded

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson’s contract will not be renewed by the BBC, following an investigation into an alleged “fracas” with a producer.

The BBC investigation found that Mr Tymon was “subject to an unprovoked physical and verbal attack by Jeremy Clarkson”. It said the attack lasted around 30 seconds and only stopped when a witness intervened.

The report said “verbal abuse was directed at Oisin Tymon on more than one occasion – both during the attack and subsequently inside the hotel – and contained the strongest expletives and threats to sack him. The abuse was at such volume as to be heard in the dining room, and the shouting was audible in a hotel bedroom.”

Mr Hall said “no blame” was attached to Mr Tymon, who, he said, “behaved with huge integrity throughout”.

Here is how the events unfolded:

10 March

Clarkson is suspended by the BBC after a “fracas” with a producer. The BBC says Top Gear will not be broadcast on BBC Two on Sunday. The other two remaining episodes of the series are also pulled from the schedules. According to reports, Clarkson aimed a punch at a male producer after having a row over a steak.

11 March

More than 300,000 people sign an online petition calling for Clarkson’s reinstatement. The BBC investigates the allegations, but Clarkson says he could walk away from the show: “I’m off to the job centre.” Top Gear co-star James May also defends the 54-year-old: “The man is a knob, but I quite like him.”

BBC Director General Tony Hall refuses to “speculate” on Clarkson’s future.

12 March

Prime Minister David Cameron weighs into the row over the suspension, calling Clarkson a “huge talent”. Reports suggest the star had been unhappy at being unable to get hot food at Simonstone Hall Hotel near Hawes, North Yorkshire, where the crew were staying.

The Sun and Mirror report the hotel’s chef had gone home by the time they arrived and the stars were offered cold meat platters, although the presenter requested steak.

13 March

Clarkson reportedly told BBC bosses about the fracas which led to his suspension shortly after it happened. According to reports, the 54-year-old called BBC Director of TV Danny Cohen to report the bust-up in an apparent attempt to manage the situation.

The BBC apologises to viewers who complained about the postponed Top Gear episodes. More than 800,000 people haved sign the petition.

14 March

Clarkson hints that the time may have come for him to leave Top Gear, likening himself to a dinosaur that nature had made a mistake in inventing. Writing in his column for the Sun newspaper, he says that the day must come when you “wave goodbye to the big monsters”.

He continues: “I don’t intend to dwell here on what happened then or what will happen in the future. I’m sure you’re as fed up with the story as I am.”

16 March

The BBC refuses to say when Clarkson’s future on the show will be decided. Sources close to the investigation say it is impossible to put a deadline on the outcome, until it hears from the two men central to the inquiry – Clarkson and producer Tymon.

18 March

Clarkson and Tymon are believed to have now given their evidence into the Top Gear “fracas”. However, a BBC spokesman refuses to comment on any developments, saying: “As we said last week we have an investigation ongoing and we won’t comment further until that is concluded.”

19 March

Clarkson’s Top Gear co-hosts decline an offer to continue the rest of the series without him, according to reports. May and Richard Hammond “didn’t want to do it without Jeremy”, a BBC executive reportedly says.

20 March

Clarkson launches a tirade against BBC executives whom he claim are about to sack him. Talking on stage at a charity gala for young people, Clarkson reveals he wanted to do “one last ever lap” of the Top Gear test track. A million-strong petition, calling for Clarkson’s reinstatement, is delivered to its headquarters – by tank.

23 March

A verdict is expected this week as four live Top Gear shows in Norway are postponed. Clarkson, alongside May and Richard Hammond, were scheduled to take part in the popular events in Stavanger this week. But they are put on hold while the embattled presenter remains suspended.

24 March

Clarkson’s fate could be decided imminently according to one of the corporation’s senior executives who said the allegations had to be “dealt with in a very serious way”.

Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper said: “I think if my son or daughter went to a place of work where they were shouted at, abused and someone threw a punch at them I would want there to be an inquiry and for that to be dealt with in a very serious way and that’s what theBBC is currently doing.”

25 March

The BBC announces that Clarkson’s contract will not be renewed. Director-general Tony Hall says the decision had been taken with “great regret”. He said: “It is not a decision I have taken lightly.”