Wednesday, March 18, 2015


It's never a good thing if you have to bring a crisis management team in to manage the crisis management team.

The handling of L'Affaire Clarkson has gone from bad to worse since the first phone call. Here's a possible version...

"Danny, it's Jeremy Clarkson here. I got into a row with the AP driving this week's show, which was running into trouble. There was a bit of shoving and slapping, and anyway he's gone off to hospital, so it's going to be impossible to keep a lid on it. What do you think we should do ?"

"I'll call you back". 

"Jeremy ? I'm calling on behalf of Danny. We've had some conversations here, and I'm afraid we've got no alternative but to suspend you, and pull this week's show. There'll have to be formal letters and all that, but we'll try to sort it out as soon as we can. What's the AP's name ?"

"Thanks a bunch".

Now a weekend briefing to the Mail on Sunday (they described it as "official") threatens to prolong the row. If the Mail reporting is right, it was either by or on behalf of a senior BBC TV executive - and was the first public appearance of the idea that "Clarkson should go into rehab". This, I suspect, Mr Clarkson's lawyers will find more productive in leverage than all the clumsy attempts to draw parallels with Jimmy Savile's position. They've demanded a retraction, and attempted to push the blame for the briefing onto Director of Strategy and Digital James Purnell. The Mail reports this response from a BBC spokesman "To suggest that James Purnell is involved is categorically untrue and ridiculous."

This quote may, of course, be partial, but is open to the interpretation that somebody is involved in something.  The BBC TV press team had a lovely night out last night at the Royal Television Society Awards; the days ahead may be more difficult.

Private Eye this week reminds us of the work of boutique PR firm Inc. This is the working base of former No 10 and Olympics spinner Godric Smith, who the Eye says is still on contract to the BBC.

Meanwhile, in process corner, Ken MacQuarrie may have already started gathering evidence, but Lord Hall has made it clear that a final decision will be made by the DG alone; no internal appeal is therefore possible. Two other courts are open to Clarkson - the civil courts, for defamation, or the court of public opinion.

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