Clarkson sparks controversy with prostitute joke

Jeremy Clarkson has sparked fresh BBC controversy by joking about murdering prostitutes.

Jeremy Clarkson has sparked fresh BBC controversy by joking about murdering prostitutes.

The 'Top Gear' presenter, 48, made the quip about lorry drivers killing sex workers on Sunday night’s BBC2 show.

As he completed a lorry-driving task, he said: “This is a hard job and I’m not just saying that to win favour with lorry drivers, it’s a hard job.

“Change gear, change gear, change gear, check mirror, murder a prostitute, change gear, change gear, murder. That’s a lot of effort in a day.”

His comments come after serial killer Steve Wright was convicted in February of murdering five prostitutes in Ipswich.

Wright was a former lorry driver, as well as pub landlord and forklift truck driver.

Clarkson’s joke, made before the watershed, sparked 188 complaints to the BBC, out of what the corporation said was seven million viewers.

The Iceni Project, a charity which had helped some of the murdered prostitutes in Ipswich, criticised the remark.

The group’s director Brian Tobin said: “I just think it was highly distasteful and insensitive.

“Maybe people on the BBC should think a bit more before saying some of the things they keep coming out with.

“It is around the time of the anniversary of the girls’ (Ipswich prostitutes) deaths and it’s a very delicate time. I saw it on 'Top Gear'. It made me cringe.”

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom said it had been contacted by viewers angry at the remarks.

A spokesman said: “Ofcom has received complaints regarding 'Top Gear'.

“These complaints are currently being assessed against the Broadcasting Code.

“All UK broadcasters must adhere to Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code which sets standards for the content of television and radio broadcasting.”

John Beyer, the director of pressure group Mediawatch-UK, said: “I think it’s difficult to justify. Jeremy Clarkson has been careless.”

The remarks come after a prank carried out by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand on Brand’s Radio 2 show led to the controller of the station, Lesley Douglas, resigning.

Ross has been suspended for three months without pay and Brand also resigned over the incident, in which the pair left a message on 'Fawlty Towers' star Andrew Sachs’s answer machine claiming Brand had slept with his grand-daughter.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “The vast majority of 'Top Gear' viewers have clear expectations of Jeremy Clarkson’s long-established and frequently provocative on-screen persona.

“This particular reference was used to comically exaggerate and make ridiculous an unfair urban myth about the world of lorry driving, and was not intended to cause offence.”

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