Tags: topgear | bbc | sued | somiguha | racism

'Top Gear': BBC Sued by Actress Somi Guha Over Alleged Racism

Image: 'Top Gear': BBC Sued by Actress Somi Guha Over Alleged Racism Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond.

Tuesday, 01 Apr 2014 10:00 AM

By Clyde Hughes

An actress is seeking an apology and disciplinary action against Jeremy Clarkson of the British show "Top Gear" for what she claims was a racist remark made about people of Asian descent.

A law firm representing Indian-born actress Somi Guha, who appeared in 2006 sci-fi film "Children of Men," wrote to the BBC claiming Clarkson's use of the word "slope," a derogatory term for people of Asian descent, violated the Equality Act 2010, according to The Guardian.

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Guha's action could cost the BBC £1 million ($1.8 million) in punitive damages under equality laws unless the network apologizes and takes "Top Gear" off the air, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

In the recent series finale of "Top Gear" in March, Clarkson and co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May were shown building a bridge over the River Kwai in Thailand.

"That is a proud moment, but there's a slope on it," Clarkson said, as an Asian man walked towards him on the bridge. Guha claims that in the context, "slope" was used to describe the man.

"You're right, it's definitely higher on that side," Hammond responded.

Guha claims that the BBC takes racism lightly, and this isn't the first time the network has let an offensive remark slide.

"Casual racism in the media by established BBC stalwarts is constantly brushed aside," read a formal complaint sent to management and the BBC Trust from the law firm Equal Justice. "Discrimination within the industry is accepted. Racial profiling of roles is accepted and expected. I find it offensive that Jeremy Clarkson refers to people of different races in pejorative terms."

Clarkson responded to the criticism Friday on Twitter.

"Top Gear" is no stranger to controversy. In 2008, some viewers criticized the series for showing Clarkson and May sipping gin and tonics at the wheel during a stunt. 

In February of 2009, Clarkson branded then Prime Minister Gordon Brown a "one-eyed Scottish idiot" during a news conference. The Daily Mail noted that Clarkson apologized earlier this year for posting a photo of himself asleep on a plane with a sign with a slur written on it and an arrow pointed at himself.

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