An India-born actress has filed a lawsuit against the BBC after Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson allegedly used a “racist” comment on the program.
Somi Guha, also known as Somi De Souza and who has appeared in films including ‘Children of Men’ and the TV series ‘The Bill’, has reportedly enlisted the help of Equal Justice, a London-based firm that specializes in racial discrimination cases for the legal action against the BBC.
Ms Guha’s complaint relates to a reference to a “slope” made by Clarkson during the Top Gear season finale earlier this month when Clarkson and co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May had visited Burma.
Clarkson is heard referring to a slope on a bridge that the trio had just constructed as a local man is seen crossing it although the comment is ostensibly aimed at the actual slope visible on the structure.
The show in question had seen Clarkson, Hammond and May build a makeshift bamboo bridge across a river in Thailand. After completion, Clarkson says: “That is a proud moment, but there’s a slope on it.”
Co-presenter Hammond responds: “You’re right, it’s definitely higher on that side.”
The comment caused some outrage on Social Media networks with several Twitter users saying the gag wasn’t “clever”.
Miss Guha’s solicitors, Equal Justice, say the comment could cost the BBC “up to a million pounds” as it amounts to “unlawful discrimination” by a public body.
Equal Justice had previously represented a Mexican student who had been aggrieved by a comment made by Richard Hammond who described Mexicans “lazy, feckless and flatulent” on a previous Top Gear episode.
In her formal written complaint to the BBC, Ms Guha says: “Casual racism in the media by established BBC stalwarts is constantly brushed aside.
“Discrimination within the industry is accepted. Racial profiling of roles is accepted and expected.
“I find it offensive that Jeremy Clarkson refers to people of different races in pejorative terms.
The next step for Miss Guha would be to apply to a county court under the Equality Act.
Equal Justice is demanding that the BBC investigates Clarkson’s comment.
Lawrence Davies, the head of Equal Justice banded Clarkson a “serial offender” when it comes to discriminatory comments. “The BBC defends his behaviour as British humour but it is offensive, casual racism being used to boost ratings”, Mr Davies said.
The BBC is yet to comment on Ms Guha’s lawsuit.