Entertainment & Arts

Top Gear car plates case to be reopened in Argentina

Offending Porsche Image copyright SEBASTIAN GUZMAN
Image caption The number plate appeared to make reference to the conflict in 1982

A judge in Argentina has been told to reopen a criminal investigation into former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson's infamous drive through the country.

Filming of a Top Gear special was abandoned last year following protests over a number plate on a Porsche which Clarkson was driving.

The plate - which appeared to reference the 1982 Falklands War - was replaced.

Earlier this year, a local judge ruled the Top Gear team had not acted in "bad faith" in changing the plates.

But a court has now ruled the investigation be reopened, saying the crew swapped the plates knowing it was illegal.

The show provoked anger in 2014 among locals by using the registration number H982 FKL - taken by some as a reference to the Falklands.

Image copyright Resumen Policial
Image caption The cars were pelted with stones

The Top Gear team were forced to leave South America amid angry protests. The show's cars had to be abandoned by the roadside and the crew escorted to the airport after being pelted with stones.

Andy Wilman, the show's executive producer, defended the show arguing the plate number had not been deliberately chosen and it was "most definitely" not a stunt.

A group of Falklands War veterans appealed against the closure of the case and it has now been reopened by the court of appeals in the Tierra del Fuego province.

The prosecution accuses Mr Clarkson of "falsifying, altering or suppressing the number of a legally registered object".

Image caption James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson have all departed Top Gear to make a new show for Amazon

"We think that the Top Gear team changed the plates with full knowledge of the fact that it was illegal," spokesman Osvaldo Hillard of the Centre for Malvinas Veterans said.

The case will now be reopened at Tierra del Fuego's High Court and it could take years to be solved.

Falsifying, altering or suppressing the number of a plate in Argentina can be punished with sentences of between six months and three years in prison.

Wilman said at the time: "Top Gear production purchased three cars for a forthcoming programme; to suggest that this car was either chosen for its number plate, or that an alternative number plate was substituted for the original is completely untrue."

Clarkson was sacked from the show earlier this year after attacking a Top Gear producer. Colleagues James May and Richard Hammond also left the show, along with Wilman, to start a new car show for Amazon TV.

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