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BREAKING NEWS: Will the BBC allow Clarkson’s status to trump employment law?

BREAKING NEWS: Will the BBC allow Clarkson’s status to trump employment law?

It is no secret that the alleged workplace aggression that has led to Jeremy Clarkson being carpeted by the BBC, is dividing not only a nation, but 350 million viewers worldwide. However beneath the hype and celebrity circumstance, what we find are two employees, one of whom – despite his status and financial worth – has been suspended, pending investigation that he may have fundamentally broken employment law. 

Jeremy ClarksonGlenn Hayes, an employment partner at Irwin Mitchell, said:  “Generally, employers should only suspend for as short a time as possible to allow an employer to investigate the complaints before deciding on whether there is sufficient evidence to bring disciplinary proceedings.  “Although it is impossible to say at this stage whether Jeremy Clarkson will be dismissed, even if the offence is relatively minor the BBC may decide to dismiss him as he is already on a final written warning. “The difference here is that the offence may not be relatively minor. The suggestion that Jeremy Clarkson allegedly sought to punch one of his producers is very serious and certainly in the workplace would usually be deemed gross misconduct and, following a fair disciplinary hearing, would likely result in immediate dismissal without notice”.

Clarkson’s worth to the BBC is a considerable obstacle to the standard dismissal procedure with Top Gear’s reported revenue estimated at £150m (£2 per second) for the corporation’s commercial arm. However, with so many potential risks pending the result the BBC may be obligated to finally do away with its golden goose.  Hayes continues to say, “The BBC now has to decide what to do and with so many licence payers signing a petition to have him reinstated, the corporation could be making a “rod for its own back” if they put their demands first and decide not to terminate Clarkson’s employment.  “This would mean that it could be leaving itself open to unfair dismissal claims from other staff in the future if they are dismissed in similar circumstances, or for other perceived gross misconduct offences, and Clarkson is not.” 

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