The lesson for the BBC of the distress caused by the late Jimmy Savile and others is that no celebrity, however popular in the audience ratings, is above the law.
It is one that should be heeded in the latest controversy involving Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson (your report, 11 March).
The broadcasting organisation must not allow itself to be intimidated by an online petition – with hundreds of thousands of supporters – to have his suspension lifted and the programme restored to the airwaves. It needs to act fairly and without favour to the “madding crowd”. A disciplinary procedure must apply to all associated with any organisation regardless of popularity or status. Its main purpose is to secure an improvement in an employee’s standard of conduct or performance.
Some misdemeanours ought, following investigation, to prompt dismissal. All who are subject to the procedure must be heard fairly, given the right to representation and appeal if necessary.
But no responsible employer should take into account petitions for reinstatement before all the facts have been investigated fully. The principles of natural justice should apply to Mr Clarkson as to anyone else.
But it also follows that he should receive the same penalty for a disciplinary offence as anyone else.
In the event that the BBC decides to dispense with his talents, it is likely that he will be engaged by a rival channel.
That ought not to be a factor which those carrying out the investigation should bother with. Its reputation has suffered in recent years because many felt that it ignored indiscretions by its most popular personalities. It needs to show its viewers and listeners that it will act on serious allegations against any individual who falls well short of the standards it should be setting.
The suspension of Jeremy Clarkson did not come soon enough and his programmes of brash, irresponsible petrolhead behaviour were a bore.
In an age when we are seeking alternatives to the internal combustion engine he did not acknowledge petrol’s problems. His programmes abroad were cringe-making with silly mishaps and ridiculous contests.
He is grossly overpaid and the BBC is right to cancel his shows.
What does it say about our so-called British values that being boorish, conceited and thoroughly unpleasant can make one a top TV star?