Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson’s contract won’t be renewed after a BBC investigation found he launched an “unprovoked physical and verbal attack” that left one of the show’s producers in hospital.
Director-general Tony Hall said the decision had been taken with “great regret” but that Clarkson’s attack on show producer Oisin Tymon meant “a line has been crossed”.
He said: “It is not a decision I have taken lightly.”
Clarkson has been suspended from the hit motoring show for more than two weeks since he was involved in what the BBC called a “fracas” with Tymon.
Mr Hall, who said he had met and spoken to both men, said the BBC needed “distinctive and different voices” but not “at any price”.
He said: “Common to all at the BBC have to be standards of decency and respect.
“I cannot condone what has happened on this occasion. A member of staff – who is a completely innocent party – took himself to accident and emergency after a physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature.
“For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations.”
The BBC investigation found Mr Tymon was “subject to an unprovoked physical and verbal attack by Jeremy Clarkson”.
It said the attack lasted around 30 seconds and only stopped when a witness intervened. The report said “verbal abuse was directed at Oisin Tymon on more than one occasion – both during the attack and subsequently inside the hotel – and contained the strongest expletives and threats to sack him.
The abuse was at such volume as to be heard in the dining room, and the shouting was audible in a hotel bedroom.”
Mr Hall said “no blame” was attached to Mr Tymon, who, he said, “behaved with huge integrity throughout”.
He added that the BBC would look to “renew” the show for next year. Clarkson and his co-hosts, James May and Richard Hammond, were scheduled to take part in four live Top Gear shows in Norway this week, but it was announced on Sunday that they had been postponed.
All three men’s contracts run out at the end of this month but Hammond and May’s future is still unclear.
Responding to Jeremy Clarkson’s sacking, Downing Street said that Prime Minister David Cameron believes that “if you do something wrong at work there can be consequences” and that “aggressive and abusive behaviour is not acceptable in the workplace”.
Following the news of his sacking, Clarkson left his upmarket west London home on a push bike wearing a black leather coat and a grey beanie hat.
Riding past photographers and TV cameras, he said: “Excuse me gentlemen, thank you.”
Asked by reporters what his reaction was, Clarkson said “I’m off out, sorry” before riding away.