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CLARKSON MADE ME PARKING MAD; Traffic warden may sue TV motormouth after he branded him a fat, ugly drug seller.

Byline: BOB HAYWOOD

TRAFFIC warden Steve Smart is threatening to sue 'motormouth' TV celebrity Jeremy Clarkson after being branded a drugs pedlar.

The astonishing slur on the law-abiding family man followed a verbal clash between the two men at Birmingham International Airport.

Mr Smart asked motoring journalist Clarkson to drive around the block because he was parked on double yellow lines.

An infuriated Clarkson, who was waiting to pick up his wife and children, retorted: 'I write a column for The Sun and I will write about you, No 53.'

Mr Smart, 38, of Sheldon, Birmingham, thought little more of the confrontation.

So he was stunned when he read the Clarkson column in the September 6 issue of the national newspaper.

Under the headline Terminal Terror, it said: 'Sunday was not a busy day at Birmingham Airport.

'There were no queues and traffic was flowing well in the pick-up lanes outside the main terminal.

'So why I wonder, did traffic warden No 53 decide, when I was stationary for less than a minute, that I had to move on?

'I explained that I'd just spoken to my wife and that she was already through Customs on her way out. I said she had three kids with her and half a ton of luggage. But he wasn't interested. I had to go around the block.

'Well, No 53, eventually I was able to pick up my family. You, on the other hand, will always be fat and ugly.

'Why can't traffic wardens ever use their common sense? If I looked like bin Laden or I'd been causing chaos, then fine.

'But on a quiet sunny day they should leave us alone and get back to what they do best, selling drugs from under their hats.'

Shocking

The shock slur was a reference to the revelation in another national newspaper that parking wardens in Wandsworth, south London, were selling drugs, including heroin, while on duty - hiding the deals under their caps.

A colleague of Mr Smart told the Sunday Mercury: 'Steve has been a traffic warden with West Midlands Police for 15 years, the last eight years at the airport, and is known for doing his job efficiently and fairly.

'He has received commendations and letters of thanks for the way he deals with the public.

'But you have to move people off double yellow lines. If everyone parked right outside the front door of the airport, there would be traffic chaos.

'There has also been increased security concerns following the terrible events of September 11.

'Steve was terribly shocked at Jeremy Clarkson's onslaught. His world has been turned upside down - both at work and at home.

'He has never been in trouble with the police. But because his number is on his shoulder strap, people have been making comments to him like: 'Have you got any drugs for sale, you fat b*******?'

'Steve's wife has only just had a baby and she has been really upset, saying: 'You're not a drug dealer'.

'Steve has also had to take time off work because of stress although he started back last week.

'I know Jeremy Clarkson has a big mouth - he has made a very good living out of it. But it is cowardly to use your influence to publicly attack an ordinary working man who is just doing his job.

'Clarkson is just a bully.'

Mr Smart has consulted his union, the Transport & General Workers, about taking legal action against Clarkson who lives in The Cotswolds.

He told the Sunday Mercury: 'I have been advised not to say anything.'

David Wheal, of Clarkson's London-based agents ICM, said: 'Jeremy does not wish to comment.'

CLARKSON'S GAFFES

JEREMY Clarkson has a history of putting his foot in his mouth.

He has a hate-hate relationship with Birmingham, even though he earned a fat living out of the city when he was a presenter with Top Gear, produced at the BBC Pebble Mill studios.

Among his offensive remarks about Birmingham have been:

'I worked there for nearly 10 years and my casual dislike turned to pure hatred.'

'The city centre is a culinary back hole, with few decent restaurants and even fewer hotels.'

'(In Birmingham), security guards are required when you go to the bank.'

'Marston Green is exactly four miles from nowhere.'

On other topics:

'I don't like Germans. Obviously one has to be racist about Germans - the deckchairs, no sense of humour and bad jackets.'

'All the staff on the Hyundai stand (at the Motor Show in Birmingham) have eaten dog - (one of them) probably ate a spaniel for lunch.'

'Pensioners are by far the worst drivers. They are spiteful, dithering, old - and in the way. They should have their licences taken away.'

CAPTION(S):

VERBAL CLASH... traffic warden Steve Smart and Jeremy Clarkson
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Sep 29, 2002
Words:800
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