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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Row over Clarkson honorary degree
Jeremy Clarkson
Clarkson has been invited to accept the honour later this year
Students and green campaigners are demanding that BBC presenter Jeremy Clarkson is denied an honorary degree on environmental grounds.

Oxford Brookes University plans to honour the Top Gear presenter, who lives in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.

But opponents are organising a petition against the decision, because of his alleged record on environmental issues and his outspoken views on MG Rover.

Clarkson's private office told the BBC it did not wish to comment.

When I heard the news my first thought was 'good'
Jeremy Clarkson on the demise of MG Rover
Campaigners say Clarkson caused damage to a sensitive peat bog when test-driving a 4x4 to the top of Ben Tongue mountain in Scotland for Top Gear last year.

But a BBC spokesman said the test drive was carried out on private land with the owner's permission and that no damage was caused.

Earlier that year, the presenter had angered some residents in the village of Churchill, Somerset, after driving a truck into a 30-year horse chestnut tree to test the vehicle's strength.

In another edition of the BBC Two programme, Clarkson tore up literature from the environmental pressure group Transport 2000.

Clarkson has also been criticised for his longstanding views on the British car manufacturer MG Rover, which collapsed in April with a loss of at least 5,000 jobs at its Longbridge plant.

"Anti-Clarkson Campaign" banner outside the MG Rover plant in Longbridge
Clarkson has been criticised for his outspoken views on MG Rover
In a column in the Times on the demise of MG Rover he wrote: "I cannot even get teary and emotional about the demise of the company itself - though I do feel sorry for the workforce.

"In fact when I heard the news my first thought was 'good'."

Craig Simmons, leader of the Green group on Oxford City Council, said: "Awarding Clarkson an honorary degree devalues Brookes, Oxford and the planet."

Clarkson is one of a group of honorary graduands due to pick up their awards at a ceremony later this year, the date of which has yet to be set.

Professor Graham Upton, vice-chancellor of Oxford Brookes, said: "Jeremy Clarkson was nominated by the School of Technology, which is heavily involved in automotive and autosports engineering and also in media technology.

"The nomination was made on the grounds that Clarkson is a high-profile figure in these areas and has a real passion for engineering and high standards in engineering production. This is what is being recognised by the award.

"One of the features of the academic environment is an open debate on issues which concern people and this is a healthy part of life in a university."




SEE ALSO:
'Petrolheads' under attack
12 Apr 05 |  Magazine
Clarkson becomes BT's Everyman
22 Jul 04 |  Magazine
BBC stumps up for tree stunt
21 Feb 04 |  Somerset


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