Top Gear Argentina Fiasco: Government emails revealed

Top Gear Argentina Fiasco: Government emails revealed

Newly released government emails have revealed the chaos as a diplomatic row was sparked by Top Gear’s controversial Christmas special in Argentina.

The two-part episode of the BBC motoring show saw Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond travel to Patagonia, where claims that a number plate referred to the Falklands War sparked violent protests that caused filming to be suspended and the crew to flee the country.

Mr Clarkson later wrote that they had “walked into a trap”, sparking a complaint to the BBC from the Argentinian ambassador to the UK as producers denied any deliberate reference to the conflict.

As the presenters were flown out of the country and producers drove to Chile on 3 October, the British Ambassador to Argentina wrote an email to his colleagues saying limited contact with the BBC had been “part of the difficulty”, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

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Dr John Freeman said there had been a “lack of information…as to when they intended to come here and what their itinerary or purpose/objectives were/are.”

Providing background in an email to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) Americas deputy director, he said Top Gearrepresentatives had contacted the embassy in August but had not replied to follow-up phone messages and emails.

“We therefore had no knowledge of the BBC programme’s plans for Argentina until we saw local media reports about the team’s presence in Bariloche late last month,” Dr Freeman wrote to Archie Young.

“Thereafter there was no further reporting until the incidents in Tierra del Fuego played out last week.”

He said the embassy was contacted by FCO’s Global Response Centre as a mob chased the Top Gear team, and high-level diplomats intervened to help the presenters and crew leave the country safely – one group by air and one by road.

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But the saga continued as the BBC attempted to recover the abandoned Porsche 928 GT, Ford Mustang Mach 1 and Lotus Espirit, left near the Chilean border as the crew were chased by a mob.

“I remain unclear as to why the BBC considers it so vital to recover the vehicles (even if in scrap form),” Dr Freeman wrote.

He said the FCO’s assistance for the BBC was “limited” and wrote that they needed to contact an Argentinian lawyer, adding: “We cannot give any guarantee re the safety of BBC personnel or agents.”

The BBC declined to comment when contacted by The Independent.

Andy Wilman, then the executive producer of Top Gear, wrote at the time that any references drawn from the H982 FKL number plate were not deliberate and that baiting Argentinians over the Falklands War was “most definitely not the sort of stunt we’d pull”.

He said it was replaced with the registration H1 VAE before the team entered Ushuaia, where he described Argentinian veterans “kicking off”.

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“We apologised (and) explained they were now gone, and that they had not been a deliberate act,” Mr Wilman wrote.

“They didn’t believe us, told us to leave town or face the consequences, we did that very thing and drove into a night of violent terror.”

Mr Clarkson said he believed “someone could have been killed” as protesters banged on their cars and threw missiles, causing the presenters to hide in the hotel.

Top Gear was hit with further controversy in March after its star presenter was involved in a “fracas” over a steak dinner and allegedly punched producer Oisin Tymon.

Mr Clarkson’s contract was not renewed with the BBC and he, Mr Hammond and Mr May have since signed a contract for a new motoring show on Amazon Prime.

Source: Independent

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Politicians Want Supercar Asbos

Politicians Want Supercar Asbos

Local authorities want a crackdown on ‘anti-social’ supercar owners, despite providing support for UK economy, says Mike Rutherford.

Still dreaming of owning that new or used supercar? Good on you. If you’ve saved up, inherited a few quid or won the lottery, why not? Not only will a dream car purchase make you happy, HM Treasury will be smiling, too. After all, consumers buying high-ticket items help prop up the UK economy.

You could stay true to your childhood desires and acquire the keys to a Porsche or Ferrari. Or you might decide to be a little less predictable and more adult by backing Britain and British workers – investing in something like a homegrown Aston Martin, Bentley or top-end Jaguar.

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Either way, ownership of such expensive kit means you’ll contribute tens, scores or hundreds of thousands to Treasury coffers in VAT on the vehicle, fuel and insurance duties, road fund licences, plus yet more VAT on fuel, servicing, repairs and the like.

But instead of thanking you for supporting the economy, some local authority politicians are talking of crackdowns and ‘supercar Asbos’ for some of the people who drive them.

Kensington and Chelsea Council in London reckons “they have a detrimental effect to the local community’s quality of life”. Never mind that some supercar dealers and owners work, live in and are part of this community. The threat is these supercar locals (and others from outside) will commit criminal offences if they, for example, rev engines, play music, rapidly accelerate, drive in convoy, leave cars running when stationary or beep horns.

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Councillor Tim Ahern insists: “We want to take steps to discourage these drivers from their anti-social behaviour.” Nick Paget-Brown, leader of the council, goes further by saying some “can be heard right across the neighbourhood”. He argues: “The best way forward is the PSPO.”

The what? It’s a Public Spaces Protection Order. And a supercar driver who breaches it faces everything from fines to the seizure, impounding and crushing of his dream machine. Mark my words: once drivers of the fastest and most expensive cars have been hit with PSPOs, more humble performance models – hot hatches, perhaps – will be next.

Meanwhile, it seems that moped riders, plus operators of buses, lorries and refuse trucks, can continue to idle and be as anti-social or loud as they like. Honestly, it’s one set of rules for them, an entirely different and more draconian set for car drivers.

Do you agree with supercar Asbos? Let us know what you think in the comments…

Source: Auto Express

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Treasury raises £1.2m by flogging supercar collection seized from crime lord dubbed ‘Don Car-leone’

Treasury raises £1.2m by flogging supercar collection seized from crime lord dubbed 'Don Car-leone' The British Government has reaped almost £1.2million by selling the seized supercar collection of a crime lord dubbed ‘Don Car-leone’. Alexander Surin, a fugitive currently living in Dubai, had a number of cars and houses seized in 2009 as part of a major operation. Among these was a Rolls-Royce Phantom which had £800,000 of cash in the boot, and a Ferrari Enzo thought to be the most expensive car ever seized and sold at a UK auction. The National Crime Agency (NCA) struck an agreement to sell the cars under the Proceeds of Crime Act earlier this year. A Ferrari Enzo, Ferrari 599 GTB, Ferrari California and the Rolls-Royce Phantom were auctioned off.

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His old Enzo, which sold for a whopping £897,500, is one of just 400 ever built, was named after the company’s founder and is capable of 217mph. The ill-gotten gains ended up selling for for a total of £1,189,840 with the Phantom fetching £69,820, the 599 going for £124,700 and the California selling for £97,820. All four cars were sold by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Source: Mirror

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‘Rich Kids of Tehran’ Back On Instagram

'Rich Kids of Tehran' Back On Instagram

Young Iranians who flaunt their luxury lifestyles on social media have started a new account to defend their actions after they were made to shut the original down amid government pressure.

Authorities in Iran blocked the “Rich Kids of Tehran” Instagram account on Thursday after flashy images of parties, alcohol and girls wearing bikinis and revealing clothing were featured.

Sports cars parked outside immaculate white-marble mansions and pool parties among lush green gardens have also attracted the attention of more than 100,000 followers.

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However, the prolific posting of more than 300 images in just one month abruptly stopped due to belief that the wealthy fun-seekers were breaching strict Iranian laws.

Rules have required women to cover their hair and dress modestly in public, and for men to dress conservatively, since the 1979 revolution however it is not confirmed if the Instagram photos were taken on public or private property.

'Rich Kids of Tehran' Back On Instagram

Drinking alcohol is also forbidden in the Islamic country but many who can afford it ignore the rules and drink in the privacy of their homes, and the young Iranians claim the photos of wine and cocktails were taken while abroad.

The first post of the new account defended their use of social media as a way of showcasing an alternate view of Iranian culture and society to the rest of the world.

They said: “We have changed the way the world looks at us. People don’t use camels for transportation but some choose to use ‘Italian and German horses.’

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“We did not have any bad intentions and we are not against anyone. We wanted to show the luxurious side of Tehran to the world. Only thing we did was to post some pictures on Instagram.

“We love our country and like any other country we have rich and we have less fortunate people. Some rich people in Iran come from wealthy families who have been rich for generations. Others simply made their wealth by working hard.”

Source: The Independent