Ever since Jeremy Clarkson and his Top Gear buddies were forced to flee Argentina in a row over the number plate on a Porsche 928 GT they were using to film a special edition of the programme; there have been claims and counter-claims that the Top Gear programme – never known to be deliberately uncontroversial – had acquired the number plate deliberately to wind up the natives.
It was claimed, first by the Argies and then by columnists and commentators over here, that Top Gear deliberately put the plate H982 FKL on the car to draw attention to the 1982 Falklands War; despite denials from Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear and the BBC.
Now: thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request to the DVLA I can reveal the truth: Top Gear did not put the plate on the car (bang goes a good story!).
The DVLA have disclosed that the registration mark H982 FKL was the original registration mark on the Porsche 928 GT, which was first registered on 30 May 1991.
In March 1998, the number went into DVLA reserves while a personalised registration mark was applied to the car. When that personalised plat was removed in May 2001, the original H982 FKL mark was reallocated.
The H982 FKL mark has never been applied to any other vehicle.
The BBC’s director of television, Danny Cohen, last month told Argentina’s ambassador, Alicia Castro, that the BBC stands by the programme. “I am very aware that some have questioned whether the number-plates were in some way a prank,” he said in a letter made public by the BBC, “I would like to reassure you again that nothing we have seen or read since the team returned supports the view that this was a deliberate act.”
So, Jeremy Clarkson is innocent then. Who’d have thought it!