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BBC's Jeremy Clarkson issues qualified apology for Brown insult

TOP Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson today apologised after describing Prime Minister Gordon Brown as "a one-eyed Scottish idiot".

He said in a statement issued by the BBC: "In the heat of the moment I made a remark about the Prime Minister's personal appearance for which, upon reflection, I apologise."

The BBC later issued a brief statement in the wake of the Clarkson apology.

A spokesman said: "We note that Jeremy has issued an apology for the personal remarks he made about the Prime Minister."

A spokesman for Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Jeremy Clarkson's remarks were foolish and insensitive.

"He is a clown – at least now he is an apologetic clown."

Gordon Banks, Labour MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, said Clarkson's apology did not got far enough.

He demanded the presenter say sorry for including the word "Scottish" in his attack on the Prime Minister.

He accused the presenter of "trying to divide the UK".

"I'm disappointed he has not apologised for the use of 'Scottish' in his comments," the politician said.

"But at least he's gone part of the way."

He added: "He can disagree with his (Gordon Brown's) handling of the economy, but the fact that he's Scottish, English or Irish doesn't have relevance to his argument."

Mr Brown lost his sight in one eye after an accident playing rugby as a teenager.

Clarkson, speaking at a press conference in Sydney, compared Mr Brown with Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, after Mr Rudd had just addressed the country on the global financial crisis.

A video of the press conference has been posted on the YouTube website.

During it Clarkson said: "It's the first time I've ever seen a world leader admit we really are in deep s***.

"He genuinely looked terrified. I thought, the poor man, he's actually seen the books.

"In England we have this one-eyed Scottish idiot, the one-eyed Scottish man, he keeps telling us everything's fine and he's saved the world and we know he's lying, but he's smooth at telling us."

During the press conference, Clarkson put his hand over his mouth after calling Mr Brown a "one-eyed Scottish idiot" and said: "Oh I've said that now..."

His co-presenter Richard Hammond added: "You've said that out loud as well."

But Clarkson was undeterred and carried on with his comments about Mr Brown.

A Downing Street spokesman later declined to respond to Clarkson's description of Mr Brown as a "one-eyed Scottish idiot", saying only: "I don't think I'm going to get into those comments."

Asked at a daily briefing of Westminster reporters how the Prime Minister would respond to the Top Gear presenter's suggestion that Mr Rudd was being more honest with voters about the economic crisis, the spokesman said: "Mr Clarkson is entitled to his own interpretation of the economic circumstances."

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