Falklands fury drives Top Gear out of Argentina

The 'offending' Porsche with its number plate H982 FKL. Picture: Contributed
The 'offending' Porsche with its number plate H982 FKL. Picture: Contributed
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JEREMY Clarkson and his Top Gear co-presenters cut short their tour of Argentina and fled to Chile under police escort after enraging local residents and army veterans in the Argentine regional capital which covers the Falklands.

Demonstrators stoned their vehicles at a petrol station as they crossed the town of Tolhuin on their way to Punta Arenas, in Chile, local media reported.

Earlier, Clarkson had his Porsche stopped at a roadblock by a group of army veterans near Ushuaia, capital of the province of Tierra del Fuego, the Antarctic and Islands of the South Atlantic.

They later marched to his hotel to demand Clarkson and his production crew team clear out or “face the consequences”.

Top Gear was filming a special episode in Argentina but faced criticism over alleged references to the 1982 Falklands War.

Clarkson’s Porsche had a number plate reading H982 FKL, which Argentines took to refer to the date of the war in which they were defeated by British forces in a struggle for the islands they call the Malvinas.

Top Gear producers claimed it was all pure coincidence.

After the reported attack as the crew left for Chile, Clarkson’s Porsche was abandoned by the side of the road along with a Lotus and Ford Mustang used by co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May.

Film crew reportedly told police: “We’re leaving the cars, we don’t want more problems.”

Councillor Juan Manuel Romano said the digits 269 on the plate of the Ford Mustang Hammond was driving were close to the 255 Britons killed during the war – and the numbers 646 on May’s Lotus could refer to the 649 Argentine casualties.

The Top Gear trio and their film crew are understood to have packed up and left three days ahead of schedule.

War veteran association member Osvaldo Hilliar said: “What they did was an offence that, through no coincidence, was committed in the Malvinas capital, without any regard to local feeling. We told them we couldn’t guarantee their security if they didn’t leave.”

Mariano Plecity, the state minister who mediated with veterans, said: “The British group agreed to leave before the deadline was up, with some leaving by air and others by road.”

He later tweeted a link to a local paper which read: “Government expels English Top Gear producers from province.”

The exact whereabouts of Clarkson and his co-producers was unclear last night.

Municipal chief Sergio Araque said: “We share the opinion of the Ushuaia War Veterans Association, that this was intentional provocation by the Top Gear team, and agreed they should leave Tierra del Fuego province by Thursday afternoon.

“We provided two police cars to escort them to the border.”

Clarkson flew into Buenos Aires on 17 September before heading to the ski resort of Bariloche to start a 1,350-mile filmed trek along the Patagonian Highway – route 40 – to the world’s southernmost city of Ushuaia.

The number plate row erupted as he neared the city.

Leading daily Clarin said: “This is highly sensitive for Argentines and he could have problems.”

In 2012 the Indian High Commission complained to the BBC about an India special in which Clarkson travelled the country in a Jaguar with a toilet fixed to the boot. In August Ofcom ruled he used racist language when he referred to an Asian man as a “slope” during a Burma special.He had to apologise in May after mumbling the N-word as he sang a racist rhyme for Top Gear.

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