THE controller of BBC Scotland is to decide suspended Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson's fate, it emerged last night.


Ken MacQuarrie will chair the disciplinary panel that will examine whether Clarkson should be sacked over a 'fracas' with a producer.

MacQuarrie, the Director of BBC Scotland, led the investigation into Newsnight's unfounded claims that implicated Tory peer Lord McAlpine in sex abuse in 2012. The BBC paid Lord McAlpine, who died last year, £185,000 in damages following the report.

Clarkson, who laughed off the storm surrounding his suspension yesterday, is to receive a formal letter requesting his appearance before the panel in London today.

It will examine allegations that he punched producer Oisin Tymon

Around 400,000 people have signed a petition calling for him to be reinstated.

He told reporters: "I've been suspended haven't I? I'm just off to the job centre," adding: "At least I'm going to be able to get to the Chelsea match."

Clarkson, 54, said he regretted what had happened following the row, which reports suggested was over catering arrangements.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron backed Clarkson. He said the star, who has a home in his Oxfordshire constituency, was a "great talent" and he hoped the situation could be sorted out.

Co-host James May, who earlier said he was not present during the incident, added: "I think he's been involved in a bit of a dust-up and

I don't think it's that serious."

The show's former test driver, Perry McCarthy, known as

The Stig, said there had been

a "complete over-reaction" by people "looking to be offended".

The BBC is investigating the allegations, but the star could leave the show when his contract runs out at the end of the month.

All three of the show's hosts were understood to be days away from signing new contracts that would have kept them at the wheel of the show for another three years when Clarkson was suspended.

Mr Tymon, 36, began working on Top Gear as an associate producer in March 2008.

The presenters and crew are said to have stayed at Simonstone Hall Hotel in North Yorkshire at the time of the latest incident.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation. No one else has been suspended. Top Gear will

not be broadcast this Sunday.

The BBC will be making no further comment."