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Anger after Jeremy Clarkson brands Australians 'convicts'

Published: 10:20AM Monday March 11, 2013 Source: ONE News

Angry Australians are warning Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson never to return to the country after he labelled citizens "convicts".

The television presenter has just finished filming in Australia for the hit car show, but has upset locals with his controversial comments.

Clarkson, 52, is reported to have hit out at a group of photographers who were trying to get a shot of him as he walked to dinner at a Sydney restaurant with former mistress Phillipa Sage.

"You can take them out of England, but you can't take the convict out of them," the Top Gear frontman fired at the group of paparazzi as he walked past.

He is then said to have rubbed salt in the wound, by labelling Sydney Harbour a "'river", Britain's Daily Mail reported.

A previously unidentified man, who appeared to be among the group dining with Clarkson, then shouted: "You're the reason we won't come back to Australia."

The man has since been named as James Cooke-Priest, CEO of spin-off show Top Gear Live.

He is reported to have told the gathered press pack: "We don't like paps. I can tell you've got your phones ready to film, we just want to have a quiet dinner."

The comments forced Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman to issue a statement, in a bid to defend the show's reputation.

"I would like to address the matter of the comment made by a man in Sydney Harbour, stating that Top Gear would never be coming back to Australia," he said.

"That comment was made by a halfwit who has absolutely nothing to do with the TV show, and nor is he a spokesman for Jeremy or any of the other presenters.

"He had no right to make any comment in relation to the show, and his remarks most certainly do not reflect our views in any way."

'Good riddance'

But the comments had already caused outrage among the Australian press, with one newspaper calling on the presenter to leave and never come back.

Queensland's Courier Mail published an article saying it would be "good riddance" for Clarkson when he leaves, and branded him "the biggest muppet ... in the wooorrld".

In a second article the controversial presenter was told "we don't want you".

"So whether or not you decide to grace these convict shores again, Jeremy, let's be very clear: where you are concerned, the tide has gone out faster than your receding hairline," it said.

Others in the Australian media labelled him "obnoxious" and "gutless".

Clarkson appeared to address the controversy on his Twitter account, despite appearing to be confused about which country he was in, posting: "So I had a conversation last night about how I would never go back to Austria. And NOW look what's happened."

The famously un-pc presenter has also frustrated locals by chartering a helicopter to fly him to his western Sydney filming location every day to avoid the notoriously heavy city traffic.

Clarkson also posted a photograph of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Twitter, with the sarcastic comment: "Anyone else think this is a bit over engineered?"

The Australian controversy came before the Top Gear crew arrived in New Zealand to begin filming on Ninety Mile Beach.

The planned supersonic car stunt - due to take place this week - has already prompted Far North District Council to apologise to Maori iwi for not properly consulting with them before approving the filming.

The show will effectively shut-down Te Oneoa A Tohe beach from midday to 5pm each day from March 11 to 17, weather dependent.

Clarkson has already tweeted about leaving Australia and flying to New Zealand.

"People of Sydney. Thankyou for a great time. Hope you liked the show. Now for New Zealand," he posted.

Controversial presenters

It is not the first time Top Gear presenters have hit the headlines with their foot-in-mouth comments.

The BBC was forced to apologise in December 2011 after Clarkson said public servants taking part in a 24-hour strike should be shot in front of their families.

Earlier that year he angered pop star George Michael, who launched a Twitter offensive at the presenter calling him "pig-ugly" and "homophobic" after comments he made about him on Top Gear.

And that's not to mention the infamous Mexican scandal, which prompted the BBC to apologise to the UK's Mexican ambassador after Clarkson and fellow presenters Richard Hammond and James May branded Mexicans "lazy, feckless, flatulent oaf with a moustache, leaning against a fence asleep".