01/12/2011 06:23 GMT | Updated 01/12/2011 09:27 GMT

David Cameron: Jeremy Clarkson Was 'Silly' To Say Strikers Should Be Shot

David Cameron has said Jeremy Clarkson was "silly" to joke about shooting public sector workers who went on strike.

But he fell short of condemning the Top Gear presenter.

Speaking on ITV's 'This Morning' programme on Thursday, the prime minster said: "It's obviously a silly thing to say. I'm sure he did not mean that."

The BBC was forced to apologise after the presenter joked that it was unfair for people in the public sector with "gilt edge pensions" to stage a walkout "when the rest of us have to work for a living."

"I'd have them all shot." he said. "I'd take them outside and execute them in front of their families."

Clarkson is part of the so-called 'Chipping Norton set' of friends centered around Cameron's Oxfordshire constituency that also included former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks.

Jon Trickett MP, Labour's shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, had called for the prime minister to "disassociate" himself from the remarks made by Clarkson.

"No one wants these strikes but most of today's strikers are mums, not militants. Clarkson should apologise. And the prime minister should make clear he disassociates himself from the distasteful remarks uttered by one of his friends," he said on Wednesday night.

The public sector union Unison has indicated it is considering whether there are grounds to refer a complaint to the police.

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said: “Clarkson’s comments on the One Show were totally outrageous, and they cannot be tolerated. We are seeking urgent legal advice about what further action we can take against him and the BBC, and whether or not his comments should be referred to the police."