Controversial "Top Gear" host Jeremy Clarkson may be facing a disciplinary panel headed by the British Broadcasting Corp. soon, but a source close to him indicated that he is "intensely relaxed" after it was revealed Thursday that he reported himself to the broadcaster over an altercation with a show producer.
According to Kaya Burgess of The Times, the presenter alerted BBC executive Danny Cohen, the director of television, to the "fracas" he had last week with producer Oisin Tymon over the availability of food at a North Yorkshire hotel in England; he was offered a "cold platter of cheese or meat" instead of the steak he requested. Despite the fact the alleged victim has not filed a complaint yet, BBC director-general Tony Hall asked both parties in the alleged fracas to appear before the inquiry.
"We have to get the people who are impacted by this together. There is a lot of speculation," Hall said. "We have got to establish the facts and I intend to do that before we come to a final decision. We have got to make sure we get all the key people together and find out what happened."
Burgess reported that Clarkson was suspended after he reported the incident first in a staff meeting with the show's crew before notifying Cohen. That action prompted the BBC to halt production of three new "Top Gear" episodes and cancel their airings on Sunday nights.
"Clarkson has been sent a letter summoning him to a disciplinary hearing," Burgess wrote. "The presenter will come face to face with Mr. Tymon during the inquiry into the incident."
According to Ben Dowell of Radio Times, Hall indicated that there would be no time limit on the investigation surrounding the popular TV presenter. The director-general was asked if Clarkson would be given the boot if it was determined he broke any BBC rules.
"I am not going to speculate on that," Hall said. "Once you have the facts, then you can make decisions. But I want the facts."
As first reported by Radio Times, Ken MacQuarrie, the head of BBC Scotland, will be in charge of the disciplinary panel that will assess the claims from both Clarkson and Tymon. However, there are some executives within the BBC who think the investigation will be completed in a swift manner.
"We have got a good man in place who can get to the facts," a senior BBC executive told Dowell. "We would like it done very quickly."
The unnamed BBC executive added that the British broadcaster "wanted this all over as quickly as possible." Another BBC source reinforced that notion with Radio Times.
"Normally BBC investigations take a long time, but I think this may surprise people by being quicker than usual," the second BBC source said to Dowell.
According to The Times, the BBC could face a significant financial impact if Clarkson is given the sack by its disciplinary panel. "Top Gear" is aired in 170 countries and brings in millions of pounds each year to BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm.
"It is believed that the BBC is preparing for maximum loss of revenue of about £1 million ($1.9 million) if the postponed episodes are never made," Burgess wrote. "There are concerns that foreign broadcasters will seek compensation for breach of contract if the episodes are not provided, while there are longer-term fears overseas about 'Top Gear' without Clarkson."
However, Edel Ryan, an executive at insurance broker JLT Specialty, told Burgess that Clarkson could be liable for any losses of the BBC's earnings from "Top Gear." She argued that it was common for broadcasters to insure themselves against losses when celebrities went "rogue."
"Broadcasters have to consider the options available to them to protect their liability in this area," Ryan said. "Risks include contractual obligations as well as loss of income following commercial decisions they may be forced to make as a result of the actions of a famous face."
As for the incident itself, Dowell indicated that Clarkson may have told his friends that some "handbags and pushing" occurred. However, it remained unclear on whether or not punches were exchanged.
Online supporters of both Jeremy Clarkson and "Top Gear" have come out to defend both him and the program on social media. A petition by Guido Fawkes on Change.org to save Clarkson's BBC job has gathered over 800,000 signatures since it was first posted on Tuesday.