Union angry over BBC's Clarkson 'shoot strikers' remark

1st December 2011, Comments 0 comments

One of Britain's biggest unions called Thursday for the BBC to sack popular TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson after he said public sector workers on strike should be shot in front of their families.

The Unison union said it was taking legal advice after the presenter of the "Top Gear" motoring show -- a worldwide hit -- made the comments on a chat show after more than a million workers went on strike on Wednesday.

The BBC said it had received around 4,700 complaints about Clarkson's comments on "The One Show", despite the broadcaster issuing an on-air apology.

When asked what he thought of the mass strike in protest at changes to public sector pensions, Clarkson said, to laughter from the studio audience: "I would have them all shot.

The presenters grimaced as he went on: "I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families. How dare they go on strike when they've got these gilt-edged pensions while the rest of us have to work for a living?"

Karen Jennings, Unison's Assistant General Secretary, said Clarkson had spoken "almost like (late Libyan leader Moamer) Kadhafi would have spoken about demonstrators".

"It's an incitement to hatred and we are seeking legal advice," she added.

Prime Minister David Cameron, a personal friend of Clarkson, dismissed his comments as "silly".

"It was obviously a silly thing to say and I am sure he didn't mean that," Cameron said.

"I didn't see the remark but I'm sure... it's a silly thing to say."

Clarkson previously caused outrage when had described former prime minister Gordon Brown, who lost his sight in one eye in an accident suffered while playing rugby as a teenager, as a "one-eyed Scottish idiot".

In February, the BBC apologised to the Mexican ambassador to London after the "Top Gear" presenters described Mexicans as "lazy", "feckless" and "flatulent", but insisted their comments were an attempt at humour.

The BBC said his latest comments were a misguided attempt at humour.

© 2011 AFP

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