Ofcom: Jeremy Clarkson's 'shoot striking workers' remark did not break rules

  • @johnmatthewhall

Jeremy Clarkson's comment that striking workers "should be shot" did not breach broadcasting regulations, Ofcom ruled today.

An investigation was launched and the Top Gear presenter forced to apologise after making the remarks on BBC's The One Show on the evening of the largest public sector strikes for 30 years.

The comment led to around 31,700 complaints and attracted the condemnation of union leaders and politicians. David Cameron, a friend and near-neighbour of the controversial broadcaster, called the remark 'silly'.

Ofcom said that the comments, while "potentially offensive", were justified by the context.

It ruled that hosts Matt Baker and Alex Jones introduced Clarkson's appearance on The One Show with references to his provocative and outspoken broadcasting style, adding viewers would have expected Clarkson to make "potentially controversial or offensive statements" due to his "well-established public persona", and that it would have been clear "that his comments were not an expression of seriously held beliefs".

It admitted that viewers less familiar with Clarkson's candid nature could have found his comments offensive, but pointed out that the programme ended with an apology.

It went on to say the comments "were not made seriously and were not at all likely to encourage members of the public...to act on them in any way".

Ofcom added that despite reports that Clarkson's comments were pre-approved by the BBC, he had in fact been advised by The One Show's producers not to air the sort of remark that he went on to make.

It is not the first time Clarkson has found himself in hot water after making controversial statements.

Last year, the BBC apologised about an item on Top Gear which led to the Mexican ambassador complaining about the "outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults" made about Mexicans by Clarkson and co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond.

The BBC's editorial complaints unit upheld criticisms of the show and ruled that it reinforced negative stereotypes.

In February 2009, Clarkson famously called then-prime minister Gordon Brown a "one-eyed Scottish idiot" and in November the previous year, the BBC received almost 2,000 complaints when he joked about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes.