Jeremy Clarkson racism claims: Ofcom launches investigation into 'slope' comment
The Top Gear host faces even further troubles
Wednesday 07 May 2014
Ofcom is now officially investigating a recent episode of Top Gear, in which Jeremy Clarkson was accused of racism.
The presenter used a derogatory term used to describe those of Asian descent during the Burma Special which aired on BBC2 in March.
The BBC later apologised, but Ofcom is now examining whether or not the comment violated its “content standards”.
If the show is found to have breached rules, the regulator can impose sanctions, from a correction or statement to a fine of up to £250,000.
The contentious comment took place after the Top Gear hosts built a bridge over the River Kwai on the border of Thailand and Burma.
Clarkson commented on the structure: “That is a proud moment. But there's a slope on it” – just as an Asian man walked over the bridge.
The comment caused a backlash from viewers, many of whom called for Clarkson to be sacked. The BBC apologised for the incident, describing it as “a light-hearted wordplay joke referencing both the build quality of the bridge and the local Asian man who was crossing it”.
“We were not aware at the time, and it has subsequently been brought to our attention, that the word 'slope' is considered by some to be offensive and although it might not be widely recognised in the UK, we appreciate that it can be considered offensive to some here and overseas, for example in Australia and the USA,” said Top Gear producer Andy Wilman.
”If we had known that at the time we would not have broadcast the word in this context and regret any offence caused.“
Last week, Clarkson was again accused of racism following the release of an unaired clip from Top Gear.
In the video, the presenter is seen to mutter the word 'n****r' while reciting a children’s nursery rhyme 'Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe' to decide between two cars.
The BBC reprimanded the 54-year-old, telling him that if he makes “one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time, I will be sacked”. He issued a grovelling video clip, in which he begged for forgiveness.
His personal life is also reportedly suffering. Clarkson’s wife and manager, Frances Clarkson, is said to be divorcing him, following a string of infidelity rumours, of which he has stringently denied.
She has declined to comment on the reports, but his former wife Alex Hall yesterday commented that the presenter’s current spouse deserves “every penny she gets”.
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