hounded out of Argentina over ‘Falklands numberplate’

SHAFAQNA –  Jeremy Clarkson has been accused of insensitivity for driving through Argentina in a car with a numberplate said to contain a veiled reference to the Falklands conflict. The BBC presenter was driving a Porsche with the number H982 FKL — which was felt to be a refence to the conflict that took place in 1982 — while filming a South American special of Top Gear along the Patagonian Highway.

It went unnoticed until the end of his 1,350-mile road trip when Clarin, the national newspaper, said: “This is highly sensitive for Argentinians and Clarkson could have problems.”

The crew were denied permission to film by local authorities.

Juan Manuel Romano, secretary of social development for Ushuaia in southern Tierra del Fuego province, said that the programme’s crew and Clarkson were escorted to the airport. “They have taken the decision to leave,” he said.

A group of former Argentine combatants in the conflict had held a protest in front of the hotel where Clarkson and the BBC crew were staying.

The Daily Telegraph said the BBC denied that the licence plate was intentionally chosen. “Top Gear production purchased three cars for a forthcoming programme; to suggest that this car was either chosen for its number plate, or that an alternative number plate was substituted for the original, is completely untrue,” the BBC executive producer, Andy Wilman, was quoted as saying.

Clarkson, who is on a final warning, is no stranger to controversy on the show. Two years ago the Indian High Commission in London made a formal complaint about an Indian special of the show in which he travelled around the country in a Jaguar with a lavatory fixed to the boot.

In 2011 the BBC apologised to Mexico over remarks that characterised Mexicans as lazy and oafish.

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