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Falklands' reference in BBC Top Gear Argentina program: no end to controversy

Tuesday, November 25th 2014 - 00:45 UTC
Full article 121 comments
Ambassador Castro has addressed a letter directly to the Chair of BBC Trust, Rona Fairhead Ambassador Castro has addressed a letter directly to the Chair of BBC Trust, Rona Fairhead
Mr. Cohen merely reassures us that it was not deliberate.  We are not prepared to accept this as a full and adequate response to this supposed “coincidence”. Mr. Cohen merely reassures us that it was not deliberate. We are not prepared to accept this as a full and adequate response to this supposed “coincidence”.
Clarkson’s behavior fell well below BBC’s editorial values and standards: his account of what happened when his teams were in Argentina was biased and false Clarkson’s behavior fell well below BBC’s editorial values and standards: his account of what happened when his teams were in Argentina was biased and false

Ambassador Alicia Castro has addressed a letter directly to the Chair of the BBC Trust requesting formal apologies for the “false and biased” account reported on the BBC program “Top Gear” filmed in Argentina, and in a veiled subtle way ends hoping that the long established relationship between Argentina and the BBC, “will continue to blossom in the future”.

 The letter to the Chair of the BBC Trust, Mrs. Rona Fairhead follows on the dismissal of a formal complaint from the embassy to the Director of BBC Television, Ms. Danny Cohen who argued that the controversy created by Mr. Jeremy Clarkson while filming Top Gear in Argentina was not deliberate but coincidental.

Ambassador Castro refers to one of the number plates used by Top Gear. H982FKL, a clear reference to the 1982 Falklands conflict, and Clarkson's offensive behavior and false remarks referred to Argentina and its people, which triggered controversy and strong reactions in the host country.

Further on the ambassador states that Clarkson's behavior does not comply with BBC guidelines, when filming overseas, and recalling the record of excellent cooperation between the BBC and Argentina (some of the latest Earth's Walking Giants and BBC Patagonia) with full support from the Argentine people and government, concludes that “I am sure you cherish this relationship as much as we do, and we hope that it will continue to blossom in the future”.

Follows the full letter:

21 November 2014
Mrs Rona Fairhead
Chair of the BBC Trust

Dear Mrs Fairhead,

I am writing to you to express my discontent with the response from the Director of BBC Television, Mr. Danny Cohen, to my formal complaint for the offensive behavior and false remarks made by Mr. Jeremy Clarkson while filming a Top Gear show in Argentina and subsequently in British newspapers. BBC’s Editorial Guidelines state that, when working abroad, BBC staff should be “…open about our intentions when entering countries to work”. Further, Editorial Guidelines state that there is a responsibility to “avoid unjustifiable offence”. We believe that Jeremy Clarkson’s behavior in Argentina and his account thereafter does not comply with these guidelines.

We put our complaints to Director of Television, Danny Cohen, and he has rejected them. We believe Mr. Cohen’s rejection is perfunctory and he has not investigated the questions we raised in any depth. Take, for example, our view that the use of the number plate H982 FKL created serious offence.

Mr. Cohen answered thus:

“With regard to Top Gear, I am very aware that some have questioned whether the number plates were in some way a prank. I would like to reassure you again that nothing we have seen or read since the team returned supports the view that this was a deliberate act”.

Mr. Cohen merely reassures us that it was not deliberate. We are not prepared to accept this as a full and adequate response to this supposed “coincidence”.

This letter is, therefore, a formal request to you, as Chair of the BBC Trust to consider our appeal at the failure of the Director of Television to handle properly our complaint about Mr. Clarkson. We believe that Mr. Clarkson’s behavior fell well below BBC’s editorial values and standards: his account of what happened when his team were in Argentina was biased and false – apparently in an attempt to cover up the poor behavior of the BBC team making the Top Gear program.

I am particularly concerned by the tone and content of Mr. Clarkson’s Sunday Times article, which is not only insulting to the Argentine people but which contains very serious accusations leveled at the Government of Tierra del Fuego Province. This article is not written by an autonomous individual, as Mr. Cohen would have it, but rather by an employee of the BBC, commenting on the making of a BBC program. I attach Mr. Clarkson's article and my initial reply for ease of reference, as well as a copy of Mr. Cohen’s response.

There is a record of excellent cooperation between the BBC and Argentina, with BBC Earth’s Walking giants and BBC Patagonia being only the most recent examples of production teams that have been enjoying the hospitality and full cooperation of the Argentine people and Government while working on the ground (see attached a list of some BBC projects in our country over the last years). I am sure you cherish this relationship as much as we do, and we hope that it will continue to blossom in the future.

Yours sincerely, Ambassador Alicia Castro

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • CabezaDura2

    Falklands' reference in BBC Top Gear Argentina program: “no end to controversy”...

    Anyone new that the Ks would extend this rubbish like chewing gum and make a drama about it...
    As if there wasn't far more important fronts to attend to

    Nov 25th, 2014 - 01:02 am 0
  • brasherboot

    Argentina doesn't pay the BBC's bills.

    WHO CARES what she thinks.

    Nov 25th, 2014 - 01:08 am 0
  • ilsen

    oooooooooh!
    So now, according to MP she is “in a veiled subtle way” threatening the BBC?
    I'm sure they care, not!
    lol!
    As reported elsewhere, hours ago, the BBC have filed this in the 'green-ink'/looney-tunes folder.
    This has all been reported in the better newspapers, and all the tabloids, and I doubt the BBC can possibly back down now as it would cause an outrage in the UK, (albeit a very polite, restrained one!).
    Love or loathe Jeremy Clarkson, the quickest way for the BBC to lose its licence-fee payers would be to support the point-of-view of the Argentine Gov.
    Meanwhile, poor Alicia is just adding to the publicity for the programme, which by now, I expect, is going to be the most watched 'Christmas-Special'.
    I, for one, will be tuning in. Gonna be a classic. Not my usual fare, I'll admit, but Argentina has made it big. To their detriment, no doubt.
    Only Argentina could turn something positive into a negative so decisively.

    Nov 25th, 2014 - 01:08 am 0
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