Argentine judge deems Clarkson's Falkland plates 'arrogant and disrespectful'

Remember that whole controversy surrounding Top Gear's trip to Argentina, what with Jeremy Clarkson and his provocative license plate? Yeah, we almost forgot too, now that there's a whole other controversy surrounding the show and its trouble-making host, but that matter was never resolved. And now a judge in Argentina has ruled on the case. Sorta.

The situation, in case you don't recall, revolved around the license plate H982 FKL, which Clarkson had on his Porsche while driving through southern Argentina for its most recent Christmas special. Locals viewed Jezza's license plate as a provocative and thinly-veiled reference to the Falklands War of 1982 that pitted Britain against Argentina regarding sovereignty over a nearby archipelago. People rioted and the Top Gear crew had to be ushered out of the country under police escort.

Several months later, the issue (or an issue related to the issue) has been brought to court. In her ruling, Judge Maria Cristina Barrionuevo rejected the claim made by the show's producers that it was all an "unfortunate coincidence," calling Top Gear's actions "arrogant and disrespectful." She also deemed the actions of the locals to have been entirely predictable, while controversially referring to the islands as the Malvinas, as they're known locally.

So will Clarkson and company be extradited to serve prison time in Argentina? Will they be banned from the country for life? Will the BBC be forced to pay massive fines lest they be taken off the Argentine airwaves? Well no, not exactly. That's because Judge Barrionuevo wasn't tasked with ruling on whether the Top Gear team had deliberately provoked public reaction or if the reference in the license plate itself broke any specific laws. The decision before her was over the Top Gear crew's having changed the license plate while fleeing from the crowds.

Technically that's illegal in Argentina (as it probably would be in most countries), but while Barrionuevo acknowledged the prosecutors' claim that they had indeed swapped out the plates, the judge ruled it justified as they were under imminent danger from the angry mob. They were also under police escort, and we can imagine that the officers may have recommended they switch the plates as well, but that didn't reportedly make it into the final decision. However prosecutors are expected to appeal the judge's ruling.

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