The BBC has apologised to brain injury sufferers after Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson referred to crash victim Richard Hammond as ‘a mental’.

Clarkson made the quip when presenter Hammond returned to the show last month. Hammond is still recovering from a 280mph car smash in September which left him fighting for his life.

“Are you a mental?” Clarkson asked on the BBC2 programme. Fellow presenter James May offered Hammond a tissue in case he ‘dribbled’.

Brain injury charity Headway was inundated with complaints from outraged viewers. Chief executive Peter McCabe wrote to the BBC and has published the BBC’s response.

“The Top Gear team accept that by using the term ‘a mental’ we caused offence to some members of our audience and would like to apologise for doing so,” the BBC letter read.

Headway branded Clarkson’s comment ‘insensitive’.

In its original response to the complaints, the BBC said last month: “Top Gear viewers are aware of the playful nature of the programme and the boyish rapport that exists between the programme’s presenters. It’s something viewers really enjoy.

“Top Gear did not want to be gushing and sentimental in welcoming Richard back to the show after his accident, so the term ‘mental’ was used in a playful manner and it was directed solely at Richard and no one else.”

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