The BBC executive who conducted the investigation into Newsnight’s botched expose of Lord McAlpine is to decide the fate of Jeremy Clarkson.
Ken MacQuarrie, the head of BBC Scotland, is to chair the disciplinary panel that will assess claims that the Top Gear presenter punched producer Oisin Tymon last week, RadioTimes.com understands.
Mr MacQuarrie, who has led the corporation’s Scottish arm since 2009, oversaw the investigation into the disastrous Newsnight edition that falsely accused the late Conservative peer of being involved in the North Wales child abuse scandal.
The fiasco led to the resignation of BBC director-general George Entwistle, while the corporation also paid Lord McAlpine damages of £185,000.
Mr MacQuarrie, who is paid £185,000 a year, is understood to be preparing to call witnesses by the end of the week. A formal disciplinary letter, summoning Clarkson to appear at the hearing, which is expected to be held at a London hotel, is set to be posted tomorrow.
Mr MacQuarrie will be assisted on the panel by Orla Tierney, a non-practising barrister who joined the BBC earlier this year, with the lengthy title of “human resources director, employee relations and reward”.
A senior BBC source said that the panel is not expected to reach a verdict before the weekend.
Sources close to Clarkson suggested earlier today that Clarkson is considering quitting the corporation whatever the outcome of the disciplinary process.
He is alleged to have punched Mr Tymon at the Simonstone Hall Hotel in Hawes, North Yorkshire, last week, after the producer told him the hotel had finished serving hot food.
Clarkson is understood to have told friends that he did not punch Tymon, but that there had been some “handbags and pushing” over the incident.
“The last three episodes of this series have been pulled,” the source said. “Can I see him going back to film another BBC series? I don’t think so. But he’ll be fine. The other broadcasters will bite his arm off.”
THE STORY SO FAR
* Clarkson “considering quitting BBC”
* Jeremy Clarkson “punch” not being investigated by police
* Petition to reinstate Clarkson passes 250,000 signatures
* Clarkson accused of punching producer
* See the Clarkson newspaper front pages