Piers Morgan has penned an open letter to axed Top Gear host and former rival Jeremy Clarkson.
The former Britain’s Got Talent judge said he was “sorry” to learn the BBC had binned Clarkson for his hotel attack on Oisin Tymon.
However, in an open letter to the controversial star published on Mail Online, Morgan quickly added: “You didn’t give the BBC much choice.
“You can’t whack a member of your own production team in a drunken, foul-mouthed rage – however cold the food.”
The ex-Daily Mirror editor and Clarkson had a high-profile 10-year feud, which Morgan claims ended last summer in a pub.
Morgan’s open letter read:
I’m sorry to hear you’ve been sacked.
No, really, strangely, I actually am.
But you didn’t give the BBC much choice. You can’t whack a member of your own production team in a drunken, foul-mouthed rage – however cold the food.
When we ended our 10-year feud in a pub last summer, I could tell you were very fragile, both emotionally and physically.
Your mother had just died, your marriage had broken down, you had various discomforting health issues, you were smoking and drinking too much, and you were reeling from the N-word scandal that nearly got you the sack 9 months ago.
You made no secret to me of your loathing of some of the BBC hierarchy. But you felt torn because you loved doing Top Gear.
I stumbled away that night, pleased that we’d buried the hatchet, but worried that your fuse might blow at some stage.
As I told your great friend AA Gill at a party a few months later: ‘Jeremy seems right on the edge to me.’ He agreed.
So it was really no great surprise to wake up one morning two weeks ago to hear you’d erupted.
Your mistake was to take out all your angst on a hard-working, loyal Top Gear producer.
If you’d just whacked ME in the head again, as you did at the British Press Awards in 2004, the nation would have risen as one to applaud you. I suspect an OBE might have been in the offing, possibly even an open-top bus, ticker-tape parade of London.
I also think your legal team made a massive tactical mistake.
As the only other human being that you’ve ever punched, I think you could have successfully argued that you hit with such pathetic weakness that it doesn’t actually constitute a punch.
As you yourself admitted afterwards, when your third wild blow careered into my head, I laughed and said: ‘Is that it? My 3-year-old son hits me harder than that!’
It was, frankly, like being slapped over the face with a wet Cod.
I deserved your fury that day after publishing compromising photos in the Daily Mirror of you and a lady who wasn’t Mrs Clarkson.
But Oisin Tymon, the victim of your assault on this occasion, didn’t, as I’m sure you would be the first to acknowledge.
The fact he’s now being abused and threatened on social media by Top Gear fans is a shameful disgrace and I hope you denounce the idiots doing it.
Just as I’m sure you’ve been denouncing yourself for being an idiot.
I don’t defend what you did, nobody can defend what you did.
But I do know that it happened after one of the worst periods of your life, professionally and personally.
And perhaps those around you on the Top Gear team might have done a bit more to protect you from yourself until you got over it all.
Now, it’s too late.
Your BBC career is over in a pile-up of epic proportions.
Top Gear itself may never re-emerge from the wreckage.
And you’ve got to face up to life in the real world again.
Speaking as something of an expert in the genre of being removed from high profile media jobs, I feel uniquely qualified to offer some advice.
1) Get on a plane, fly somewhere remote and hot, turn your phone off, crack open a few bottles of your favourite Rose wine, and lie on a beach (with your very nice girlfriend Phillipa) reading Keith Chegwin’s autobiography to remind yourself how much worse your career could have been.
2) Don’t accept any new job for a while. You’ll be amazed at both who does and who doesn’t ring with offers. Regardless of this deplorable incident, you remain a very gifted broadcaster whose skills can stretch much further than analysing a Jaguar XKR chassis.
3) Issue a public statement confirming you’re not actually dead. Many people will get confused and start talking about you in the past tense. Or put their arm around you when they see you, lower their voice to funereal levels and tearfully whisper: ‘I’m so, SO sorry.’ To which the best response, I’ve discovered from experience, is to say: ‘For what, your halitosis?’
4) Do normal things again, like sending a letter. I hadn’t posted my own mail for 11 years when I was sacked from the Mirror, so had absolutely no idea that self-adhesive stamps had come into existence until I tried to lick the back of one and it stuck to my tongue.