Letters: When the PM backs a bully like Jeremy Clarkson, what hope is there?

These letters appear in the 27 March issue of The Independent

Independent Voices
Thursday 26 March 2015 18:00 GMT

The moral values of the UK have sunk to the gutter. The BBC inquiry into Jeremy Clarkson revealed that this bully physically assaulted a colleague to the extent that the victim needed treatment at A&E over the trivial matter of absence of hot dinner in a hotel after a late night out.

Public services funded by taxpayers have to be used as a result of the action of this bully. Yet there is public support and sympathy for Clarkson from a large section of the UK population, including the Prime Minister, who saw it fit to make a public statement just to be popular with a section of the electorate.

Rupert Murdoch tweeted: “How stupid can BBC be in firing Clarkson?” and there were reports that Clarkson may be sought after by popular media in the US.

So it is OK to be a bully and physically violent if you generate loads of money and have certain appealing attributes.

Money and celebrity status are all that matters. These are the values of today. What values, morality and role models are we giving our young people? And yet we complain bitterly about the thuggish behaviour of some of them.

It will be interesting to see the reaction of those supporters of Clarkson, including David Cameron and Rupert Murdoch, if their loved ones are subjected to unprovoked physical violence at the hands of bullies.

Stephen Chang

Bromley, Kent

Surprising as some might find it, there is no special legal protection for being a “character”, a much-loved “rogue” or a celebrity. Neither should there be. As an employer dealing with the issue of physical assault by one employee against another, the BBC had no realistic alternative but to terminate Mr Clarkson’s engagement.

Richard Nicolle

Partner, Stewarts Law, London SE10

David Cameron was keen to inform the public how much his children liked Jeremy Clarkson. Will he now be informing them that nice Uncle Jeremy is not a cuddly bear but a violent foul-mouthed bully who throws a tantrum when he cannot get his dinner.

Maybe Cameron needs to be more selective in his choice of role models and friends, as his judgement in these matters seems sadly lacking.

Brian Dalton


Being retired, I am able to regularly trawl a large number of charity shops in my locality. I have recently noticed a dramatic and sudden influx of books by and about Jeremy Clarkson and his Top Gear cronies.

In one shop I found 11 such books. It is my experience that when a celebrity starts to fall out of favour (Lance Armstrong, Rolf Harris, Gary Glitter et al) their books and CDs suddenly end up in charity shops.

Et tu, Jeremy?

Roger Hewell

Holcombe, Somerset

In any job you can only step out of line so many times – no one should be above the rules. If Top Gear dies, so be it. I’m sure viewers can find something else to watch.

And if they want to be really daring, they could even turn off the TV and do something else.

Emilie Lamplough

Trowbridge, Wiltshire

James May has said that the departure of Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear is a “tragedy”. Mr May is incorrect; an airline crash killing 150 people, among them school children and babies, is a tragedy. In comparison, the removal of Jeremy Clarkson from a television programme is an almost trivial non-event.

Professor Brian S Everitt

King’s College, London SE1

The other side of GM story

Your articles on GM crops have read like advertorials for the industry. It is astonishing that, in featuring Monsanto, you appear to ignore the evidence of the devastating impact of the corporation’s GM herbicide-tolerant crops across North and South America on people and the environment.

The use of glyphosate herbicide on Monsanto’s GM maize and soy (most used as animal feed and biofuels, not food) has increased exponentially as resistant weeds have emerged. This herbicide is linked to the severe decline of the Monarch butterfly across the US, and this week the World Health Organization classified it as a probable human carcinogen.

You appear to have accepted the industry’s misleading claim that GM crops are needed to feed a growing global population. People are hungry today because they do not have access to nutritious food – lacking either the money to buy it or the land or other means to grow it – not because of an insufficiency of food produced, GM or otherwise.

As the US Department of Agriculture states, there is no consistent evidence to show that GM crops increase crop yield.

The real scandal is not opposition to GM crops, but why GM continues to get funding and political support when it is failing to deliver; when the plethora of innovative and sustainable agricultural practices delivering real solutions for farmers, communities and the environment globally get minimal support.

Clare Oxborrow

Friends of the Earth

Peter Melchett

Soil Association

Professor Andy Stirling

Sussex University

Professor Brian Wynne

Lancaster University

Claire Robinson

GM Watch

Liz O’Neill GM Freeze

Pat Thomas Beyond GM

Mike Small Fife Diet

Colin Tudge

Campaign for Real Farming

Ghoulish grandstanding

Tragic though the crash of the German Wings flight was – and all fatal air accidents are terrible tragedies – I don’t recall that when the Concorde came down outside Paris in 2000 killing 100 German tourists the then French President and German Chancellor rushed to be seen gaping at the scene of the disaster.

Until now there has seemed to be a respectful understanding that VIPs stay away from such places in the initial stages to enable the emergency teams to carry out their grim tasks without distraction.

It is difficult to resist the suspicion that Hollande, the most unpopular French President since the Second World War, and Merkel, who sees herself as the Iron Mistress of Europe, were engaging in some ghoulish political grandstanding.

Adrian Marlowe

The Hague, Holland

Salmond runs rings round Cameron

I am no SNP supporter but can only admire the ablest political strategist in the UK, Alex Salmond, running rings round his opponents once again by daring to use the UK’s unrepresentative voting system to his own party’s advantage.

The hypocrisy of David Cameron’s reaction is staggering. This is the man who was largely instrumental in ensuring that PR proposals for UK parliamentary elections would fail – to the advantage of the Conservatives; the same man, who when presented with the decisive vote of Scots for the continuance of a reformed Union, chose instead to play to his own interests in England, thereby gifting the initiative back to the nationalists.

A man of vision would have used the opportunity to ensure the continuance of the Union for another 300 years by setting in train root-and-branch constitutional reform.

It is partly as a result of this incompetence that we have the likely prospect of months of political horsetrading; and opportunist and weak government in which the UK’s national interest will take a back seat.

Colin Crampton

Elderslie, Renfrewshire

Irony of Peter Hain’s outrage

Peter Hain is “outraged” that Special Branch kept a file on him. Those of us who can remember his antics in 1970, when he led mobs to target rugby grounds, can hardly be surprised that the forces of law and order deemed it necessary to watch him.

It is ironic that a member of the Cabinet of Tony Blair, the man who did more to create a surveillance state than any other Prime Minister, should be enraged at being subject to surveillance.

Francis Beswick

Stretford, Greater Manchester

Rugby chief should consider his position

The chief executive of the Rugby Football Union, Ian Ritchie, has chosen to make public his opinion that the performance of the young English Rugby team, who played with such commitment, courage, pace and flair last weekend, was “not acceptable at all”. Since he cannot accept it, I am not sure which is preferable: his silence or his resignation.

Andrew Johnson


The bottom line could be misleading

Surely changing “cunts” to “bottoms” arguably renders a piece of prose even more risqué (“Is this a freaking joke? New app cleans up language in e-books”, 25 March). It seems that a passage discussing sexual intercourse could surely have its meaning drastically altered. Or am I being too anal about this?

Michael O’Hare

Northwood, London

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