Jeremy Clarkson has been widely lambasted after he moaned about a road being cordoned off – despite it being the scene of a devastating three-car accident in which a man in his seventies died.
The TV presenter took to Twitter to highlight that the closure, in West London, was inconveniencing him.
“Dear The Police,” he wrote. “I know it was a nasty crash in Hammersmith last night but how can it take this long to re-open the road?”
But the missive was immediately condemned across social media.
A number of police forces replied by inviting the 59-year-old on shift to see how they dealt with emergencies, while one officer who helped deal with the incident wrote he was sorry Mr Clarkson had been delayed, before adding: “Perhaps you'd like to come with us and personally explain to the family of the deceased that we didn't investigate the death of their loved one thoroughly because you wanted to get home? That their loss is a complete irrelevance to you?”
Four people – three men and a woman – have been arrested since the smash at 1.40am on Friday.
Police are investigating the theory that nine separate cars were racing along the A4 Great West Road close to the Hammersmith Flyover when at least two collided with the victim’s vehicle, which was being driven correctly.
The dead man’s partner, also in her seventies, remains in hospital in stable condition.
Following criticism of his tweet, Mr Clarkson – most famous for getting into a fight because a TV crew member offered him sandwiches instead of a hot meal – appeared entirely unrepentant.
“I'm sure it was terrible,” he said. “But once the injured are sorted, the number one priority is opening the road. Blame is irrelevant.”
A spokesperson for London’s Metropolitan Police said of the crash: “Detectives are appealing for information, dash-cam and phone footage after a man died when his car was involved in a collision with a convoy of vehicles that were travelling at high speed and suspected of racing along the A4…
“At this early stage it is believed three cars were involved in the collision. London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade attended. One man – aged in his 70s – was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Three people, two men and a woman, were arrested at the scene on suspicion of dangerous driving. Another man who fled the scene after the collision subsequently presented himself to police and has also been arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving.”
Detective Constable Liam Kerrigan, from the force’s serious collision investigation unit, added: “Our initial enquiries have established that up to nine cars were travelling at high speed at the time of the collision. They appear to have been in convoy and may well have been racing.
“The man who tragically died was an innocent member of the public, driving home with his wife and following the rules of the road.”