Jeremy Clarkson on Argentina ‘Falklands War’ number plate row: ‘For once, we did nothing wrong’

Top Gear host claims ‘thousands’ chased crew before state ordered them to leave country

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The Independent Culture

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has spoken out after his cast and crew were chased by an angry crowd in Argentina, saying:  “For once, we did nothing wrong”.

The controversial host said his crew was forced to flee after a crowd became enraged at a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL, which some people apparently suggested was a deliberate reference to the 1982 war between Argentina and the UK over the Falkland Islands.

But in a series of tweets released this morning after arriving back in the UK, Mr Clarkson insisted the number plate was a coincidence. He said the crew were chased to the border “by thousands” before state representatives ordered them to leave the country.

He wrote on Twitter: "All TG crew now safely out of Argentina. I just got back to UK.

"The number plate WAS a coincidence. When it was pointed out to us, we changed it.

"And these war veterans we upset. Mostly they were in their 20s. Do the maths.

"They threw us out for the political capital. Thousands chased crew to border. Someone could have been killed.

"This was not a jolly jape that went awry. For once, we did nothing wrong."

Top Gear team flees Argentina
BBC dismisses reports over Falklands War number plate

The team left Argentina three days early after being denied permission to film by local authorities, according to the BBC.

Clarkson had been in the country to film a Top Gear special driving down the famous Patagonian highway with co-stars Richard Hammond and James May.

Speaking to The Sun, Mr Clarkson said the group initially saw people becoming upset by the number plate on Twitter, so they took it off. He told the paper, for which he writes a regular column, that they were still attacked despite this, so the group “made a break” for their hotel in Ushuaia.

"The mob just descended on the hotel and encircled us. State representatives came and ordered us out of the country," he said.

"I've been to Iraq and Afghanistan but this was the most terrifying thing I've ever been involved in.

"There were hundreds of them. They were hurling rocks and bricks at our cars. They were trying to attack us with pickaxe handles.

"They were shouting: 'Burn their cars, burn them, burn the pirates'. I am convinced the mob was state organised."

The BBC confirmed the crew decided to leave, but said the car was not chosen for its number plate.

A BBC spokesman said: "We're pleased the team is safe and would like to thank all of those who have helped. As the executive producer has made clear, the number plate issue is a very unfortunate coincidence."

Andy Wilman, Top Gear's executive producer, has also insisted that the issue was merely an unfortunate coincidence, and that Clarkson was not intending to cause political problems.

"Top Gear production purchased three cars for a forthcoming programme," he told The Guardian. "To suggest that this car was either chosen for its number plate, or that an alternative number plate was substituted for the original is completely untrue."