The Foreign Office did not incur any costs in providing assistance to the BBC Top Gear team which was recently in an Argentine tour and was forced to leave the country under protection, following alleged disrespectful references to the 1982 Falklands war by the team.
The statement is in reply to a Freedom of Information Act request by a British citizen, asking about the costs of getting Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May and the rest of the Top Gear team out of Argentina after the number plate furor at the end of September, beginning of October.
The consular support provided to the Top Gear Team was covered by existing Foreign & Commonwealth Office resources without incurring any additional costs, was the core of the reply from the FCO South America's Department, dated 11 November.
In late October, early November, the Top Gear team with their controversial chief Jeremy Clarkson toured Patagonia in several cars, one of them a Porsche with UK plate identification H982 FKL, which was interpreted in Argentina as a clear unnecessary offensive reference to the Falklands 1982 war, triggering all sort of reactions, including violence, once the local media starting drumming the issue.
Finally the Top Gear team had to escorted in Tierra del Fuego and ended in Punta Arenas, Chile.
Since then the Argentine embassy in London has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to have the program reviewed and demanding apologies from the BBC for the false, biased and insulting report filmed by the Top Gear program.
Ambassador Alicia Castro wrote two letters, a first to Director of Television, Danny Cohen and the other to the Chair of the BBC Trust, Mrs. Rona Fairhead.
However so far and despite Argentina’s protests, the BBC has confirmed that Top Gear will air the Argentina program in a prime-time Christmas slot this year, alongside favorites such as ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Call The Midwife’, ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys’ and ‘Strictly Come Dancing.’
Follows the Foreign Office reply letter under the Freedom of Information Act 2000; Ref: 0974-14
Thank you for your email of 20 October September asking for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000.
I would like to know how much it cost the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to get Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May and the Top Gear team out of Argentina after the number plate furor at the end of September/beginning of October.
I would like the cost broken down into different categories please - flights, security, cost of sending Foreign Office manpower to Argentina and anything else that was incurred.
I am writing to confirm that we have now completed the search for the information which you requested.
I can confirm that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does hold information relevant to your request.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office did not incur any costs in providing assistance to the Top Gear team. The consular support provided to the Top Gear Team was covered by existing Foreign & Commonwealth Office resources without incurring any additional costs.
In keeping with the spirit and effect of the Freedom of Information Act, all information is assumed to be releasable to the public unless it is exempt. The information we have supplied to you may now be published on our website together with any related information that will provide a key to its wider context.