Everyone’s Entitled to Due Process

As already stated, I’m no fan of Jeremy Clarkson or Top Gear and I couldn’t give a shit if Top Gear is off the air.

I don’t know what disciplinary offence he committed, and neither do any of the public who are clamouring for his instant dismissal or his immediate reinstatement and recommendation for sainthood. What I do know is that in an organisation like the BBC, there will be clear policies and procedures for managing disciplinary matters. Suspension is usually used as a last resort, to remove someone from a workplace so that a full investigation can be carried out without people feeling scared to say what they saw and heard or pressured to say something did or didn’t happen. A suspension isn’t a punishment or a conviction. While the person is suspended, the management team will investigate the alleged incident, get statements from witnesses, and decide whether or not there is enough evidence to warrant a formal disciplinary hearing. After the disciplinary hearing, if the allegations are upheld, disciplinary action would be taken against the person and that might be dismissal, demotion, oral or written warnings or other.

At this stage, Clarkson has been suspended. If the rumours are true and the allegations are that he punched someone, then suspension is entirely appropriate during the investigation. The BBC have a responsibility to keep their staff safe and allowing someone suspected of violence to remain at work would be unacceptable. Equally, Clarkson is entitled to a safe workplace too, and it might not be appropriate for him to remain at work in an atmosphere of tension, until the investigation is complete.

Everyone involved in this incident is entitled to have their views heard in a safe process, and to feel that their concerns have been taken seriously. And all those people clamouring for Clarkson to be reinstated need to remember that it’s not ok for celebrities to be immune from normal disciplinary processes just because they’re famous and bring the money in. Remember how well that worked out with Jimmy Savile?

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