Sacked Top Gear star Jeremy Clarkson defends attack victim

LONDON (AFP) - The outspoken former presenter of hit car show Top Gear Jeremy Clarkson on Thursday defended the co-worker he attacked in a fracas that led to his sacking by Britain's BBC.

Clarkson's contract was not renewed after an internal BBC investigation found he physically attacked a Top Gear producer, Oisin Tymon, after a lengthy verbal tirade.

Clarkson, 54, has yet to comment on the decision, but paused to defend Tymon when stopped by reporters outside his London home.

"All I would like to say is... I wish people would leave Ois alone because none of this was his fault," Clarkson said as he passed reporters on his bicycle.

Clarkson flagged the incident to the BBC after Tymon took himself to hospital following the outburst, which reportedly occurred because Clarkson was annoyed at a lack of hot food.

Police said no-one who was present at the hotel in Yorkshire in northern England had reported the attack, but that investigators had spoken to several witnesses.

"We have a duty to investigate where we believe an offence might have been committed, and that is what we have been doing with this case," the North Yorkshire Police said.

"We have made contact with Mr Tymon through his lawyers, to ask him to speak to us so we can ascertain how he wishes to pursue this matter." Reports suggest that co-stars James May and Richard Hammond may also leave the show. Their contracts are due to end at the end of March.

Hammond has called it the "end of an era" while May said he was considering his position, but BBC director-general Tony Hall has indicated he wants the show to continue.

Clarkson challenged viewers critical of the programme to go ahead and make their own, in his final column for the Top Gear magazine published Thursday.

"Generally speaking, the new series of Top Gear seems to have been rather popular. However, on Top Gear's website, there's a smattering of people who aren't impressed at all," Clarkson wrote.

"If you want the sort of show you like, why not make it yourself?"

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