Jeremy Clarkson is set to fight back against the BBC after a “senior BBC source” compared people turning a blind eye to the presenter’s behaviour to the alleged cover-up of BBC presenter Jimmy Savile, reports say.
The Top Gear presenter was suspended for allegedly punching BBC producer Oisin Tymon in what the corporation described as a “fracas”.
The presenter is said to be seeking a retraction of remarks from the “BBC source” which claim that politicians were ignoring Clarkson’s bad behaviour in the same way that people once did with Savile.
“The pressure this guy [Tymon] is so Savilesque in a way,” a BBC source was quoted as saying in the Mail on Sunday.
“If you look at what David Cameron says or what [former Culture and Media Secretary] Maria Miller says and you swap Clarkson for Savile, you get this: David Cameron is effectively saying that Savile’s a real talent, Maria Miller saying Savile will be Savile.”
Since his death, it has been accepted that Savile was a prolific child abuser and used his celebrity status to prey on and sexually assault vulnerable young people.
Cameron leapt to Clarkson’s defence when the news of his suspension broke last week. “I don't know exactly what happened. He is a constituent of mine, he is a friend of mine, he is a huge talent,” he said.
“I see that he said he regrets some of what happened. All I would say - because he is a talent and he does amuse and entertain so many people, including my children who'll be heartbroken if Top Gear is taken off air - I hope this can be sorted out because it is a great programme and he is a great talent.”
Clarkson is not the only one to have found the comparison offensive – Savile’s victims did too, according to legal firm Slater & Gordon which represents 169 of Savile’s victims. “Many of Savile's victims find a direct parallel between these issues to be upsetting and highly inappropriate,” Slater & Gordon lawyer Liz Dux said.
“One victim said that while both have celebrity status, to suggest other similarities is totally offensive.”
An internal investigation into Clarkson’s encounter with Tymon is ongoing, and the result is expected to be announced this week.
Despite the suspension, Clarkson has been booked to host BBC comedy panel show Have I Got News For You next month.
Clarkson’s representatives and the BBC have been reached for comment.
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