Jeremy Clarkson suspended by BBC: Fans of Top Gear presenter sign petition urging broadcaster to reverse decision

Right-wing political blogger Guido Fawkes is heading the petition

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The Independent Online

Thousands of Jeremy Clarkson fans have signed a petition urging the BBC to reverse its suspension of the Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson, following a “fracas” with a producer.

The presenter has been embroiled in controversy after controversy in the time he has appeared on the car show, and marked himself out as a challenger of political correctness.

Last year alone, he apologised for using the racial slur “n*****” in an un-aired Top Gear segment, and almost sparked a riot in Argentina after he drove a Porsche with the number plate H982 FKL, which was regarded as a deliberate reference to the Falklands War of 1982.

However, his legions of fans have not been put off, and were quick to defend Clarkson against the BBC on Twitter this evening, with right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes starting a petition urging the broadcaster to rethink its position.

As many as almost 15,000 people had signed the petition in the four hours since the BBC announced the move at around 4pm - a figure which is likely to rise.

TV personality Katie Hopkins, who is no stranger to sparking a heated debate herself, said: "Without him, the licence fee makes no sense whatsoever. Enough lefty lunacy. Get the man back on #topbloke #TopGear"

Meanwhile, PR guru Mark Borkowski questioned the BBC's decision to discipline the host of its cash cow programme.

In the face of controversy, Top Gear has landed itself a place in the Guinness Book of Records for most watched factual programme in the world and has an estimated global audience of 350 million, and is sold to 214 countries.

And despite being on the air for over a decade in its current format, the show is thriving on social media, with three million YouTube subscribers, 15 million Facebook fans, and 1.74 million Twitter followers.

Top Gear Magazine has a global circulation of 1.67 million, four million people use its website every month, and its live shows have attracted 1.5 million visitors.

And Clarkson himself made more than £14 million from Top Gear in 2012 after a BBC move to take full control of the hit series' production company.