By Jonathan Davies
Jeremy Clarkson has been sacked by the BBC following an investigation into his "fracas" with a producer, BBC's director general Tony Hall has confirmed.
The Top Gear presented was suspended on 10 March after the altercation with producer Oisin Tymon in a Yorkshire hotel. It has been reported that the incident occurred after no food was provided for Clarkson following a day's filming.
Clarkson's suspension re-ignited the debate over employee conduct and their value to a company, but Glenn Hayes, employment partner at national law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: “The BBC did not really have a choice. The suggestion that Jeremy Clarkson allegedly looked to punch one of his producers is very serious and in the workplace would usually be deemed gross misconduct and following a fair disciplinary hearing, would usually result in immediate dismissal without notice.
"Although the BBC had a petition with hundreds of thousands of signatures on it to have him ‘re-instated’ prior to his contract not being renewed, the corporation could have made a ‘rod for its own back’ if they put their demands first. This would mean that it could have left itself open to unfair dismissal claims from other staff in the future if they were dismissed in similar circumstances, or for other perceived gross misconduct offences, and Clarkson was not."
'Unprovoked physical and verbal attack'
The investigation, led by BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie, found that Mr Tymon took himself to hospital following the "unprovoked physical and verbal attack".
The report said: "During the physical attack Oisin Tymon was struck, resulting in swelling and bleeding to his lip. The verbal abuse was sustained over a longer period, both at the time of the physical attack and subsequently."
Clarkson's verbal attack "contained the strongest expletives and threats to sack" the producer.
"[The] physical attack lasted around 30 seconds and was halted by the intervention of a witness," Mr MacQuarrie added.
It is understood that Mr Tymon did not file a formal complaint, but Clarkson reported the incident to the BBC himself.
Lord Hall said he had "not taken this decision lightly", and realised that it would "divide opinion".
Following Clarkson's suspension, a petition to re-instate the Top Gear presenter was launched by the show's fans, gaining more than one million names.
Lord Hall said "a line has been crossed" and he "cannot condone what has happened on this occasion".
He said: "... 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."
But Lord Hall did recognise the contribution Clarkson made to the BBC: "This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC. I have always personally been a great fan of his work and Top Gear."
Top Gear future
Top Gear has not aired since Clarkson was suspended two weeks ago. The BBC did not make any comment on the future of the programme, nor the show's remaining presenters Richard Hammond and James May. Both of their contracts are up for renewal this year.
Top Gear is one of the BBC's biggest assets, generating around £50m a year in overseas sales.
The motoring programme is the single largest factual TV programmme in the world, with 350 million weekly viewers in 170 countries.
In addition to the TV programme, Top Gear magazine has a global circulation of 1.7 million and it also operates a live arena tour.