"It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract," BBC Director General Tony Hall said in a statement. "It is not a decision I have taken lightly. I have done so only after a very careful consideration of the facts and after personally meeting both Jeremy and [producer] Oisin Tymon.
"I know how popular the program is and I also know that this decision will divide opinion. The main facts are not disputed by those involved," Hall added.
The ruling follows BBC's internal investigation into Clarkson after a recent incident, during which he reportedly punched Tymon earlier this month. "It was not disputed by Jeremy Clarkson or any witness that Oisin Tymon was the victim of an unprovoked physical and verbal attack. It is also clear...that Oisin Tymon is an import ant creative member of the Top Gear team who is well-valued and respected. He has suffered significant personal distress as a result of this incident, through no fault of his own," the investigation concluded.
The attack allegedly "lasted around 30 seconds and was halted by the intervention of a witness," but Tymon suffered "verbal abuse" from Clarkson "on more than one occasion - both during the attack and subsequently inside [a] hotel - and contained the strongest expletives and threats to sack him."
Clarkson joined Top Gear, the most popular factual series in the world, in 1988. He has been credited as key factor to the series continued success, particularly since the 2002 revamp he pitched. But while Clarkson brings in ratings, he has repeatedly drudged Top Gear into controversy with his questionable behavior.
Clarkson had already been placed on "final warning" last year when he was allegedly caught on camera saying the N-word while filming Top Gear, which wasn't the first time Clarkson had used racial slurs on set. In October, the Top Gear crew was forced to leave Argentina after violent protests erupted in response to Clarkson's license plate number, which they believed to be an offensive reference to the Falklands War.
"The BBC is a broad church. Our strength in many ways lies in that diversity. We need distinctive and different voices but they cannot come at any price," Hall explained. "Common to all at the BBC have to be standards of decency and respect. I cannot condone what has happened on this occasion. A member of staff - who is a completely innocent party - took himself to Accident and Emergency after a physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature. For me, a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank or public relations and commercial considerations."
Regarding the future of the popular car series, Hall said: "The BBC must now look to renew Top Gear for 2016. This will be a big challenge and there is no point in pretending otherwise. I have asked [BBC Two controller] Kim Shillinglaw to look at how best we might take this forward over the coming months. I have also asked her to look at how we put out the last programs in the current [season]."
Will you miss Clarkson?
TODAY'S VIDEO: Learn how to fight like Arrow's Oliver Queen