Jeremy Clarkson should not have to resign, says Gove.

Michael Gove defends Jeremy Clarkson in racism row

Michael Gove defends Jeremy Clarkson in racism row

Michael Gove today defended the Top Gear presenter, saying he should not have to resign for apparently using the n-word in a previously un-broadcast clip from the show.

The education secretary told Good Morning Britain that Clarkson had apologised for an 'unintended' use of the word and insisted "we should leave the matter there".

"As I understand Jeremy Clarkson has apologised, the word in question is horrendous and shouldn’t be used," Gove told ITV.

"It seems to me this was a word he never intended to mutter, never intended to broadcast, he’s been clear in his apology and I think we should leave the matter there."

Clarkson had initially denied using the n-word as he recited the words for the children's rhyme 'eeny meeny miney moe' and claimed that the Daily Mirror had "gone too far" in their allegations.

However, he later issued a video statement admitting that "It did appear that I'd actually used the word that I was trying to obscure. I was mortified by this."

He claimed that in two versions of the clip he had mumbled the section with the n-word and in a third version, had replaced the word with 'teacher'.

However, he said that when he listened back with the sound up, it sounded like he had inadvertently used the word.

"I did everything in my power to not use that word and as I'm sitting here begging your forgiveness for the fact that obviously my efforts were not quite good enough," he said.

A spokesperson for David Cameron, who is a close friend of the Top Gear presenter, said that use of the word was "quite wrong."

The BBC have so far resisted pressure to fire Clarkson, who is one of the station's biggest stars.

"Jeremy Clarkson has set out the background to this regrettable episode," a spokesperson said.

"We have made it absolutely clear to him, the standards the BBC expects on air and off.

"We have left him in no doubt about how seriously we view this."