Clarkson isn't racist, says TV boss

BBC boss Danny Cohen has written a letter to The Guardian insisting Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson is not

BBC boss Danny Cohen has written a letter to The Guardian insisting Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson is not "racist"

First published in National Entertainment News © by

BBC TV boss Danny Cohen has defended Jeremy Clarkson and insisted the under-fire Top Gear host is not "racist".

Cohen ordered an internal investigation into the hit show after a string of controversies which saw it criticised by communications watchdog Ofcom for breaching broadcasting rules over a ''racial'' term used by Clarkson.

The regulator decided the comment, made by the star during the programme's Burma special screened in March, was offensive.

That came just three months after Clarkson was caught up in another racism row which prompted him to apologise and be given a final warning about his behaviour by the BBC.

In that incident, unaired footage from the programme came to light in which he appeared to use the n-word.

In a letter to The Guardian, Cohen said: "While Jeremy and I disagree on the language some have recently found very offensive, I do not think he or anyone on the Top Gear team are racist."

Cohen said it was "no secret" there had been "some significant issues" on the show recently and said he " instigated a health check...to ensure that there were no further issues".

The show - and Clarkson - have landed in trouble before. An episode filmed in India was criticised by Indian diplomats and the BBC had to apologise to the Mexican ambassador after remarks made by Clarkson and co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond.

Clarkson was criticised by mental health charities after he branded people who throw themselves under trains as ''selfish'' and was forced to apologise for telling BBC1's The One Show that striking workers should be shot.

Comments (10)

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12:33pm Thu 7 Aug 14

manic monday says...

so he allegedly used The n word
but that mean he is "racist"?
I accept and understand That certain words that are used to describe someone of west Indian or African Nationality in a disrespectful way is offensive but It does not mean that people that use such words are Racist.
Don't get me wrong
I'm not trying to defend Mr Clarkson.
after all He Is Mature enough to know That it is Unacceptable to use certain words That reflect a dislike or disrespect for people of another race.
but I think The Media should refrain from Being Too Quick to label Mr Clarkson as a Racist.
I'd Like to Believe that Like most Human beings Mr Clarkson said something that with hindsight He surely regrets?
after all look what it has done to his public Image?
Let's Hope He learns from this shameful experience.
so he allegedly used The n word but that mean he is "racist"? I accept and understand That certain words that are used to describe someone of west Indian or African Nationality in a disrespectful way is offensive but It does not mean that people that use such words are Racist. Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to defend Mr Clarkson. after all He Is Mature enough to know That it is Unacceptable to use certain words That reflect a dislike or disrespect for people of another race. but I think The Media should refrain from Being Too Quick to label Mr Clarkson as a Racist. I'd Like to Believe that Like most Human beings Mr Clarkson said something that with hindsight He surely regrets? after all look what it has done to his public Image? Let's Hope He learns from this shameful experience. manic monday
  • Score: -5

1:21pm Thu 7 Aug 14

nigel d says...

Even if he isn't racist he still comes across as a arrogant pompous man.with all the history the BBC have with protecting celebrity staff who have been found to be criminals why do they continue to act in the same old way.
Even if he isn't racist he still comes across as a arrogant pompous man.with all the history the BBC have with protecting celebrity staff who have been found to be criminals why do they continue to act in the same old way. nigel d
  • Score: -2

2:21pm Thu 7 Aug 14

Wanderer in Canada says...

nigel d wrote:
Even if he isn't racist he still comes across as a arrogant pompous man.with all the history the BBC have with protecting celebrity staff who have been found to be criminals why do they continue to act in the same old way.
Simply because we should treat everyone as innocent until proven otherwise, even if you don’t like them personally. It is the basis of a fair legal system and I would like to keep it that way.
[quote][p][bold]nigel d[/bold] wrote: Even if he isn't racist he still comes across as a arrogant pompous man.with all the history the BBC have with protecting celebrity staff who have been found to be criminals why do they continue to act in the same old way.[/p][/quote]Simply because we should treat everyone as innocent until proven otherwise, even if you don’t like them personally. It is the basis of a fair legal system and I would like to keep it that way. Wanderer in Canada
  • Score: 4

2:31pm Thu 7 Aug 14

pumpkineater23 says...

I doubt Clarkson is racist.. as usual he's just trying to be controversial. A **** of the highest order.
I doubt Clarkson is racist.. as usual he's just trying to be controversial. A **** of the highest order. pumpkineater23
  • Score: 0

2:51pm Thu 7 Aug 14

nigel d says...

Wanderer in Canada wrote:
nigel d wrote:
Even if he isn't racist he still comes across as a arrogant pompous man.with all the history the BBC have with protecting celebrity staff who have been found to be criminals why do they continue to act in the same old way.
Simply because we should treat everyone as innocent until proven otherwise, even if you don’t like them personally. It is the basis of a fair legal system and I would like to keep it that way.
I agree with innocent until guilty, i never implied clarkson was guilty of anything only that his behaviour is unacceptable to most decent folk.
what I was trying to get across is that the BBC always seem to just turn a blind eye when its so called top earners continue to court controversy. If a junior presenter was to say anything similar they would be out the door instantly.
If they had acted on the wispers regarding saville and friends many young people might have been spared their ordeal.
[quote][p][bold]Wanderer in Canada[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]nigel d[/bold] wrote: Even if he isn't racist he still comes across as a arrogant pompous man.with all the history the BBC have with protecting celebrity staff who have been found to be criminals why do they continue to act in the same old way.[/p][/quote]Simply because we should treat everyone as innocent until proven otherwise, even if you don’t like them personally. It is the basis of a fair legal system and I would like to keep it that way.[/p][/quote]I agree with innocent until guilty, i never implied clarkson was guilty of anything only that his behaviour is unacceptable to most decent folk. what I was trying to get across is that the BBC always seem to just turn a blind eye when its so called top earners continue to court controversy. If a junior presenter was to say anything similar they would be out the door instantly. If they had acted on the wispers regarding saville and friends many young people might have been spared their ordeal. nigel d
  • Score: 5

3:15pm Thu 7 Aug 14

DavidMclean says...

Wanderer in Canada wrote:
nigel d wrote:
Even if he isn't racist he still comes across as a arrogant pompous man.with all the history the BBC have with protecting celebrity staff who have been found to be criminals why do they continue to act in the same old way.
Simply because we should treat everyone as innocent until proven otherwise, even if you don’t like them personally. It is the basis of a fair legal system and I would like to keep it that way.
That's a fair enough sentiment. But how does it tally with Jimmy Savile who, to my knowledge, has not actually been found guilty of anything (yet)?

Are you suggesting we should treat Savile as innocent? You'll probably be in a minority with that one .

I'm not disagreeing at all with 'innocent until proven guilty' as it does, and should underpin our legal system. However, there are times when opinions and actions can be formed without waiting for the outcome of a legal proceeding. Clarkson (AKA The Oafmaster General) may never actually find himself in the dock over what he's said, but he shouldn't be granted a benefit of the doubt simply because he hasn't been. He's apologised, which is an admission, therefore he's fair game. The point about the BBC protecting celebrity staff stands in my opinion.
[quote][p][bold]Wanderer in Canada[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]nigel d[/bold] wrote: Even if he isn't racist he still comes across as a arrogant pompous man.with all the history the BBC have with protecting celebrity staff who have been found to be criminals why do they continue to act in the same old way.[/p][/quote]Simply because we should treat everyone as innocent until proven otherwise, even if you don’t like them personally. It is the basis of a fair legal system and I would like to keep it that way.[/p][/quote]That's a fair enough sentiment. But how does it tally with Jimmy Savile who, to my knowledge, has not actually been found guilty of anything (yet)? Are you suggesting we should treat Savile as innocent? You'll probably be in a minority with that one [though I doubt you are making that suggestion]. I'm not disagreeing at all with 'innocent until proven guilty' as it does, and should underpin our legal system. However, there are times when opinions and actions can be formed without waiting for the outcome of a legal proceeding. Clarkson (AKA The Oafmaster General) may never actually find himself in the dock over what he's said, but he shouldn't be granted a benefit of the doubt simply because he hasn't been. He's apologised, which is an admission, therefore he's fair game. The point about the BBC protecting celebrity staff stands in my opinion. DavidMclean
  • Score: -2

5:27pm Thu 7 Aug 14

manic monday says...

nigel d wrote:
Even if he isn't racist he still comes across as a arrogant pompous man.with all the history the BBC have with protecting celebrity staff who have been found to be criminals why do they continue to act in the same old way.
OK Nigel
That's your personal opinion simply because of the personality you Have Observed Via your TV set.
Remember Though That Every TV Show has a producer
and therefore the Producer of shows in Which Mr Clarkson came across as arrogant and pompous
Would ponder over whether it would be beneficial To Permit Mr C to lets say "act naturally" During Each Show?
I can only presume That the producer considered it to be OK?
Hence Why You and I'm sure Many other Find him Overbearing on TV.
I think it is safe to say that if Mr Clarkson survives This scandal
I will be expecting Him to be slightly Different whether he be on TV or radio.
In fact I think it would be the right thing to Do if he wants to Continue working for the BBC.
[quote][p][bold]nigel d[/bold] wrote: Even if he isn't racist he still comes across as a arrogant pompous man.with all the history the BBC have with protecting celebrity staff who have been found to be criminals why do they continue to act in the same old way.[/p][/quote]OK Nigel That's your personal opinion simply because of the personality you Have Observed Via your TV set. Remember Though That Every TV Show has a producer and therefore the Producer of shows in Which Mr Clarkson came across as arrogant and pompous Would ponder over whether it would be beneficial To Permit Mr C to lets say "act naturally" During Each Show? I can only presume That the producer considered it to be OK? Hence Why You and I'm sure Many other Find him Overbearing on TV. I think it is safe to say that if Mr Clarkson survives This scandal I will be expecting Him to be slightly Different whether he be on TV or radio. In fact I think it would be the right thing to Do if he wants to Continue working for the BBC. manic monday
  • Score: -1

5:43pm Thu 7 Aug 14

manic monday says...

Wanderer in Canada wrote:
nigel d wrote:
Even if he isn't racist he still comes across as a arrogant pompous man.with all the history the BBC have with protecting celebrity staff who have been found to be criminals why do they continue to act in the same old way.
Simply because we should treat everyone as innocent until proven otherwise, even if you don’t like them personally. It is the basis of a fair legal system and I would like to keep it that way.
Yes
But It Is a Flawed System wouldn't you agree Wanderer?
I want to believe that Mr Clarkson Will Learn from This Entire Thing and Keep His Personal views To Himself.
Because as he can obviously See by the reaction to what came out of his mouth
some things are better left unsaid....especially when one is is public figure.
[quote][p][bold]Wanderer in Canada[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]nigel d[/bold] wrote: Even if he isn't racist he still comes across as a arrogant pompous man.with all the history the BBC have with protecting celebrity staff who have been found to be criminals why do they continue to act in the same old way.[/p][/quote]Simply because we should treat everyone as innocent until proven otherwise, even if you don’t like them personally. It is the basis of a fair legal system and I would like to keep it that way.[/p][/quote]Yes But It Is a Flawed System wouldn't you agree Wanderer? I want to believe that Mr Clarkson Will Learn from This Entire Thing and Keep His Personal views To Himself. Because as he can obviously See by the reaction to what came out of his mouth some things are better left unsaid....especially when one is is public figure. manic monday
  • Score: 0

5:52pm Thu 7 Aug 14

manic monday says...

pumpkineater23 wrote:
I doubt Clarkson is racist.. as usual he's just trying to be controversial. A **** of the highest order.
OK Pumpkin
But by what you Wrote your Doing something similar To What Mr Clarkson surely Regrets Now?
Expressing a personal opinion of a person in a way that wouldn't Make anyone want to Thank you.
I'm sure you Have it in you Just as Mr Clarkson Does
To be Gracious.
It doesn't cost anything other than putting aside our personal opinion's and set a good example that will hopefully encourage others to do likewise.
by doing so you'll notice that it wont get the kind of reaction Mr Clarkson Is Getting.
[quote][p][bold]pumpkineater23[/bold] wrote: I doubt Clarkson is racist.. as usual he's just trying to be controversial. A **** of the highest order.[/p][/quote]OK Pumpkin But by what you Wrote your Doing something similar To What Mr Clarkson surely Regrets Now? Expressing a personal opinion of a person in a way that wouldn't Make anyone want to Thank you. I'm sure you Have it in you Just as Mr Clarkson Does To be Gracious. It doesn't cost anything other than putting aside our personal opinion's and set a good example that will hopefully encourage others to do likewise. by doing so you'll notice that it wont get the kind of reaction Mr Clarkson Is Getting. manic monday
  • Score: 0

4:36pm Fri 8 Aug 14

Wanderer in Canada says...

@ DavidMclean - The “court of public opinion” is very different from the legal process I was referring to. nigel d has already clarified the context the of his comments so I will restate mine were focused at the point around “criminals”.

Neither person referred to so far has been through the legal system and classified as criminal and Saville never will. This is the area where the public opinion angle shows its ugly side – assuming Saville was innocent (I am not stating he was) how would he ever clear his name when the “court” is only hearing one side of the argument – the shocking side that sells newspapers etc. ? Even for the living, accusations of a horrible crime does not make the accused guilty, even when there is a large amount of information (not yet proven facts) in the public domain. A balanced approach and weighing the evidence in a court of law is much more appropriate and fair than reading a newspaper article and deciding you have all the facts on which to decide guilt.

So to answer your question I would suggest Saville has never been found guilty of anything. That doesn’t make him innocent, but the legal system cannot now clear him either, so be careful of proclaiming him guilty, except in the “court of public opinion”. As for Clarkson – if you decide to work in the sphere of public opinion you must take responsibility for how the public react to your words, even if you feel they are misinterpreted. Apologising for offence taken by some and publicly setting the record straight is all you can do, but ultimately the public will decide how sincere you are.
@ DavidMclean - The “court of public opinion” is very different from the legal process I was referring to. nigel d has already clarified the context the of his comments so I will restate mine were focused at the point around “criminals”. Neither person referred to so far has been through the legal system and classified as criminal and Saville never will. This is the area where the public opinion angle shows its ugly side – assuming Saville was innocent (I am not stating he was) how would he ever clear his name when the “court” is only hearing one side of the argument – the shocking side that sells newspapers etc. ? Even for the living, accusations of a horrible crime does not make the accused guilty, even when there is a large amount of information (not yet proven facts) in the public domain. A balanced approach and weighing the evidence in a court of law is much more appropriate and fair than reading a newspaper article and deciding you have all the facts on which to decide guilt. So to answer your question I would suggest Saville has never been found guilty of anything. That doesn’t make him innocent, but the legal system cannot now clear him either, so be careful of proclaiming him guilty, except in the “court of public opinion”. As for Clarkson – if you decide to work in the sphere of public opinion you must take responsibility for how the public react to your words, even if you feel they are misinterpreted. Apologising for offence taken by some and publicly setting the record straight is all you can do, but ultimately the public will decide how sincere you are. Wanderer in Canada
  • Score: 0
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