Clarkson slapped down for ‘offensive’ Elephant Man comments

By Charles Maggs

A series of comments from Jeremy Clarkson's comparing a car to the elephant man have been judged offensive by the BBC trust.

Clarkson compared a new Prius camper van to "people with growths on their faces."

He then went on to impersonate the elephant man by slurping his speech, an action the Trust dictated as being "on the verges of acceptability."

The show, first broadcast in February received 137 complaints and the Trust criticised Top Gear's production team for a "regrettable lapse of editorial judgement."

The judgement was welcomed by disfigurement charity Changing Faces. Their chief executive James Partridge said: "Everyday people with an unusual appearance and other disfigurements suffer bullying, ridicule and hate crime. In our view, these comments were offensive and breached the BBC's editorial guidelines.

"We are pleased that the BBC Trust's editorial standards committee has agreed that thesecomments 'strayed into an offensive stereotypical assumption [and] was not editorially justified in this context'."

The show's producer appeared to defend Clarkson, saying that the 'banter' was scripted and that the editorial team were "as much to blame as the presenters, arguably more so".

It is not the first time Clarkson has been in trouble for making offensive remarks. In November last year he was criticised for joking about killing striking public sector workers in an appearance on the One Show.