Jeremy Clarkson has apologised for appearing to say the N-word in unbroadcast footage for Top Gear, saying he tried to mumble over the word while reciting a nursery rhyme but "my efforts were not quite good enough".
Clarkson previously denied using the word at all, despite footage of him being posted that shows him saying, as he chooses between two cars while shooting Top Gear: "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…", before mumbling under his breath, “Catch a n***** by his toe".
Now, Clarkson had uploaded a new video, saying it "appeared" he used the word but said he had been "extremely keen" to avoid it. He said: "I am begging your forgiveness."
In the video, which he posted with the words "this is my statement", he says: "The full rushes show that I did three takes. In two, I mumbled where the offensive word would normally occur and in the third I replaced it altogether with the word 'teacher'.
"Now when I viewed this footage several weeks later I realised that in one of the mumbled versions if you listen very carefully with the sound turned right up it did appear that I'd actually used the word I was trying to obscure. I was mortified by this, horrified.
"It is a word I loathe and I did everything in my power to make sure that that version did not appear in the programme that was transmitted.
"I have here the note that was sent at the time to the production office and it says: 'I didn't use the N-word here but I've just listened through my headphones and it sounds like I did. Is there another take that we could use?'
He added: "Please be assured I did everything in my power to not use that word, as I'm sitting here begging your forgiveness for the fact my efforts obviously weren't quite good enough, thank you."
In his earlier denial, Clarkson said on Twitter he "never" used the word and the media had gone "way too far" in reporting that he had.
I did not use the n word. Never use it. The Mirror has gone way too far this time.— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) May 1, 2014
Legal experts have said his language could be in breach of equality legislation, with one lawyer saying: "Clarkson has to be sacked, no matter how much money he makes for the BBC. Use of that word is not acceptable.”