BBC Issues Apology Over Jeremy Clarkson's Controversial Strike Comments (Video)

7:10 AM PST 12/01/2011 by Mimi Turner
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The outspoken "Top Gear" host told viewers that the workers "should be shot" during an appearance on the network's "The One Show."

LONDON -The BBC has been forced to apologize on-air for comments made by its bad-boy-in-residence Jeremy Clarkson, after he called for striking public sector workers to be shot.

Speaking on The One Show, the Top Gear host said that workers protesting against changes to their pension plans should be “executed in front of their families.”

The millionaire presenter drew audible gasps for his rant about the inconvenience of a day of strike action in Britain that has seen schools, hospitals, the police force and airports affected.

“I’d have them all shot. I’d have them all executed in front of their families. I mean, how dare they go on strike when they have these gilt-edged pensions that are guaranteed while the rest of us have to work for a living.”

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Clarkson, who is thought to be paid over a million pounds a year by the publicly-owned BBC, is no stranger to controversy for his frequent on-screen polemics. Last year his on-air rant about Mexico and Mexican car-design prompted an diplomatic complaint that resulted in the BBC issuing a formal apology from director general Mark Thompson to the Mexican High Commissoner in London.

But some feel the star – who is one of the BBC’s most enduring and popular presenters – may have gone too far with his attack on British state workers who earn a mere fraction of his own wealth.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of public sector worker’s union Unison – which has over a million members - branded the comments “totally outrageous” and said Clarkson should be fired.

“We are calling on the BBC to sack Jeremy Clarkson immediately. Such disgusting statements have no place on our TV screens.”

“We are seeking urgent legal advice about what further action we can take against him and the BBC and whether or not his comments should be referred to the police.”

Even Prime Minister David Cameron has weighed in on the matter, calling the comments “silly.”

Speaking on ITV’s This Morning Cameron – a friend of Clarkson – sought to play down the matter.

“It was obviously a silly thing to say and I am sure he didn’t mean that.”

The BBC is understood to be looking into the matter internally and sources said that the appearance had been intended to be “lighthearted.”

The pubcaster issued an on air apology after the show to viewers who “may have been offended by Jeremy Clarkson.”

 

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