Jeremy Clarkson should not be given preferential treatment - despite the public clamour to reinstate him - according to a Midland employment lawyer.
Following the suspension of the Top Gear presenter by the BBC amid allegations he assaulted an assistant producer on the show, Darryll Thomas from law firm The Wilkes Partnership said if they are proven then he should be sacked.
Mr Thomas said: “From an employment law perspective, the allegations made against Jeremy Clarkson are very serious, one which if proven would certainly amount to gross misconduct.
“In any normal employment situation I would expect the employee/contractor to be suspended, an investigation to take place, followed by a disciplinary hearing if the investigation throws up a case to answer.
“If it was proven that Clarkson had struck a colleague, as is alleged, in these circumstances I would expect summary dismissal or immediate termination of his service contract.”
The latest furore surrounding Mr Clarkson comes after a lengthy list of former indiscretions, including racial comments, something which Mr Thomas said added weight to the case for dismissal.
He said: “This is particularly so, given his previous high profile indiscretions, plus the fact that it has been reported he was told last year he was on a final warning following allegations of racial comments.
“Even if these had not happened, assaulting a colleague is of such a serious nature that it is stand-alone basis for dismissal.”
The presenter’s fate remains uncertain following his suspension, but the publicity storm in the wake of it shows no sign of abating and a petition in support of him has been signed by 650,000 people so far.
But Mr Thomas said that should be irrelevant and warned if the BBC did not act decisively it could open itself up to a legal action from the man Mr Clarkson is alleged to have assaulted, reported to be Oisin Tymon.
He added: “Despite the fact there is a public petition to reinstate Clarkson, all employers have a duty of care to their employees, which in this case would be the assaulted producer.
“The producer is entitled to a safe working environment and could argue that if Clarkson was left unpunished by this then the BBC have breached his employment contract, entitling him to resign and claim constructive dismissal.
“There is also clear case law that employers should not consider third party pressure and demands when making a decision relating to matters such as this.
“Reinstating Clarkson before an investigation has taken place could set a dangerous precedent across the corporation if a matter this high-profile goes unpunished, regardless of the fact that Top Gear is one of the BBC’s most successful programmes.
“Given its standing as a world-famous public sector organisation, the BBC should be setting at the very least a basic standard example.”