• Jeremy Clarkson gave a Hitler-style salute on BBC's Top Gear
• He also made remarks relating to the Second World War
• The German government is said to be highly displeased
"As a British person with strong links to Germany, I take exception to this poisonous rubbish carried by a publicly funded broadcasting company. Such actions are out of place in our society." - David Marsh
Story in full THE television presenter Jeremy Clarkson is at the centre of a row after giving a Hitler-style salute and making mocking references to the Nazis on BBC's Top Gear.
Clarkson raised his arm Nazi-style as he spoke about the German company BMW's Mini.
Then, mocking the 1939 invasion that triggered the Second World War, he said it would have a satellite navigation system "that only goes to Poland".
Finally, in a reference to Adolf Hitler's boast that his Third Reich would last ten centuries, Clarkson said the fan belt would last for 1,000 years.
His comments during an edition of the BBC Two programme last month have incurred the wrath of German industrialist Lanbert Courth, the head of the Bayer Corporation in the UK, who found Clarkson's antics "unpleasant and disturbing".
The German government is said to be highly displeased: diplomats pointed out that, had Clarkson made the Nazi salute on German television, he could be facing six months behind bars as, joking or not, such behaviour is illegal under the country's post-war constitution.
David Marsh, a UK businessman and a leading figure in the German-British Forum, who has worked to break down stereotypes between the countries, has written to the BBC director-general, Mark Thompson, to complain about Clarkson's "odious" remarks.
In the letter, he said: "As a British person with strong links to Germany, I take exception to this poisonous rubbish carried by a publicly funded broadcasting company. Such actions are out of place in our society.
"It is no excuse to say that people, often German, who complain about such programmes have no humour or do not understand the British people's quirky characteristics.
"Modern Germany has come to terms with, and made amends for, the crimes and aggressions of the Nazi period and the Second World War.
"It does no good for people such as Mr Clarkson to dredge up the past in crude stereotypical fashion masquerading as outrageous humour.
"Does Mr Clarkson consider the effect on Germans who were born after the war who may be watching the programme?"
Mr Marsh said that, had Clarkson made similar slurs against Muslims or Jews, he would probably have been prosecuted.
A BBC spokesman said last night that it had yet to receive Mr Marsh's letter, but that it would be dealt with under the corporation's "rigorous" complaints procedure.
The Top Gear programme is broadcast in Germany on the BBC World channel.