The Clarkson furore - lessons for the ordinary employer

The dismissal of Jeremy Clarkson from the BBC, or to be more accurate, the decision not to renew his contract at the end of the month, has provoked an unprecedented level of controversy with over one million people signing a petition to reinstate the presenter after he was suspended.

To an employer lawyer, this may all seem a little surprising, if the reports of the incident in question are to be believed. Mr Clarkson’s fellow presenter, James May, hit the nail on the head in responding to a question as to whether the BBC’s decision was fair, when he said “It is probably within the law and their hands were tied”.

The BBC in this case was in the unenviable position of being damned if they did and damned if they did not. If they reinstated Mr Clarkson, with yet another slap on the wrist, they would be open to criticism that they were condoning his behaviour. If they terminated his employment, as they ultimately decided to do, they face criticism from the public from ruining their favourite TV show and sacking the goose that lays the golden eggs.

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This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.


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Andrew Chamberlain

Partner - Head of Employment & Chair of the SDE

I am a Partner, the National Head of the Employment Team and the Chair of the Service Delivery Executive (SDE), which is focused on building better solutions for clients.