Jeremy Clarkson suspended: Danny Cohen strikes to shield the reputation of the BBC

“It’s like football clubs. No one is bigger than the club,” said Mr Cohen

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The Independent Online

Jeremy Clarkson’s suspension is a victory for BBC television boss Danny Cohen, who has long sought to bring the errant presenter to heel.

Mr Cohen, tipped as a future BBC Director-General and aware of the wider damage Clarkson’s offensive gaffes had caused the corporation’s reputation, last year ordered a sweeping investigation into the culture and practices of Top Gear.

Following leaked footage of Clarkson using the N-word, Mr Cohen wanted to know if people who worked on the Top Gear team had been afraid to speak out about any incidents which caused them concern, and if they had heard racist language being used.

The investigation followed offensive remarks about Mexicans and claims of racism after Clarkson named his black dog Didier Dogba, after the black Chelsea striker.

Mr Cohen suspected that Clarkson, who had attained huge wealth and stardom from the show, too often failed to consider his wider responsibilities to the BBC and its employees.

“It’s like football clubs. No one is bigger than the club,” said Mr Cohen. “I found (the racist language) entirely unacceptable.”

He could not get Clarkson to accept that such language was offensive. “He doesn’t see a problem with some of the language he has used”, said Mr Cohen.

Mr Cohen has now been able to impose the suspension which was blocked by Tony Hall, the BBC Director-General, last year. It would be little surprise, given Clarkson and Mr Cohen’s philosophical differences, if a permanent exit for the presenter was agreed.

With the BBC gearing up to make its case for Charter Renewal after the election, any further Clarkson explosions could cause political embarrassment. Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, has already called for the BBC to sack Clarkson over his use of the N-word.

However some within the corporation fear that a Clarkson free to speak his mind about his experiences at the BBC from outside could cause equal damage.