British television star Jeremy Clarkson has formally apologized for making inflammatory comments on Wednesday about striking public sector workers who staged a huge nationwide work stoppage to protest against pension reforms.
During an appearance on the ‘The One Show’ on Wednesday, the ‘Top Gear’ TV star and newspaper columnist suggested that strikers should be executed in front of their families for inconveniencing the British public at large with their industrial action.
When asked about the striking workers by the hosts, Clarkson said: I'd have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.
Referring to the pension plans, Clarkson said: I mean, how dare they go on strike when they've got these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed while the rest of us have to work for a living?
BBC said it received about 4,700 complains about Clarkson, who is believed to earn about £1 million ($1.57-million) annually.
Union officials and some Labour Party demanded, at a minimum, that Clarkson apologize, while others asked that the BBC fire him.
Now, on the day after he made those scurrilous remarks, Clarkson has indeed said he is sorry.
I didn't for a moment intend [for] these remarks to be taken seriously -- as I believe is clear if they're seen in context,” he said in a statement.
If the BBC and I have caused any offense, I'm quite happy to apologize for it alongside them.
In an official statement, BBC stated: The One Show is a live topical program which often reflects the day's talking points. Usually we get it right, but on this occasion we feel the item wasn't perfectly judged. The BBC and Jeremy would like to apologize for any offence caused.”
Dave Prentis, general-secretary of Unison union, who had earlier called for Clarkson’s dismissal, welcomed the apology.
We are pleased Jeremy Clarkson has seen the error of his ways. It is only right he apologizes for the huge offence he caused to public sector workers and their families, he said in a statement.
However, the GMB union was not satisfied by the apology and said it plans to picket against him.
In a statement, Bert Schouwenburg, GMB’s International officer said: “If Mr. Clarkson has an ounce of humility he should publicly apologize and make a substantial donation towards the education of poor Mr. Yaque fatherless children” [in reference to a Guatemalan trade unionist who was murdered.]
Reportedly, there was a political tinge to Clarkson’s anti-striker comments as he is a friend of Prime Minister David Cameron, who has come out strongly against the unions that called for the industrial action.
Cameron himself downplayed Clarkson’s comments.
This is not the first time Clarkson has caused offense. He once called former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown a ”one-eyed idiot.”