Is Jeremy Clarkson the luckiest idiot in the UK?

On the basis of this, I think so:

The Top Gear host revealed his account numbers after rubbishing the furore over the loss of 25 million people’s personal details on two computer discs.

He wanted to prove the story was a fuss about nothing.

But Clarkson admitted he was “wrong” after discovered a reader had used the details to create a £500 direct debit to the charity Diabetes UK.

Clarkson published details of his Barclays account in the Sun newspaper, including his account number and sort code. He even told people how to find out his address.

Given how much worse it could have been, he’s lucky to have just been stung for £500.

Which begs the question: should such a face-slapping moron be allowed on the nation’s highways? What if, on a whim, he decides that shunting cars on motorways is “safe” and decides to go about proving that?


  1. My account number and sort code are printed on every cheque I write. My address is part of the public record.

    Maybe, just maybe, the bank has a responsibility not to give depositors money to any random nutter who asks for it. In a competition between Barclays and a stuffed mattress for keeping money securely, the stuffed mattress is currently winning.

  2. Maybe, just maybe, the bank has a responsibility not to give depositors money to any random nutter who asks for it.

    Well of course they have, but what is so bad about taking reasonable steps to protect your own privacy and not doing stupid things like publish your account details in a national newspaper?

    The whole argument about the data discs debacle is not that such data is not available any other way, but that if the CDs end up in the wrong hands they simply make it easy for criminals to rip people off.

    It is one thing to expect banks to take steps to protect our money; it is quite another for us to encourage people to steal it and then slag off the banks when a few people slip through the net.

  3. James, that’s really not the point – okay, Clarkson was asking for it, but really, honestly, ask yourself: should it be possible for someone to take money out of another person’s bank account using only publically available information?

    As far as I can tell, the information that Clarkson gave out was purely publically available information, which is why he thought that he could get away with revealing it.

    The fact that he didn’t get away with it speaks volumes about the quality of retail banking in the UK, and not so much about how much of a tosser Jeremy Clarkson is.

  4. This is getting surreal – you don’t question the fact that it is insecure, yet you defend his stupidity to publish the information and invite people to breach the security? Maybe he isn’t the biggest moron in the UK after all.

  5. You are all getting away from the point:

    Jeremy Clarkson Is A Moron. Do Not Defend Him, Even In A “We-eell, let’s be fair…” Kind Of Way. It Will Surely Be The Worse For The Human Race If You Do.

  6. James, this is kind of like saying that if you go out and leave your door unlocked, it’s your fault if you get burgled, and not the burglar’s. Or if you go out in a short skirt and stockings, it’s your fault if you get raped and not the rapist’s.

    I was, actually, reasonably unworried about the data discs before this happened. Like #3 says, all the information on them is publicly available anyway; nobody should therefore be able to use them to take ANY money from my bank account. Clarkson just proved that they can. That’s not something I would slag him off for; it’s a helpful public service he just performed right there.

    But then, I’m not one of these people who take his public persona seriously…

    Clarkson, as he appears on TV and in the papers is kind of like Al Murray; transparently not a real person. I am always shocked when intelligent people don’t notice the disparity between his rubbishing of greenery on the one hand and his membership of conservation organisations on the other, for just one example. He’s not voicing his own opinions, he’s saying what sells. He’s therefore a weathervane for what large segments of the public are thinking. They might not be members of the public that we agree with, but there’s no doubt it’s useful that he spouts the moronic toss they want to hear, because knowing your enemy is GOOD.

  7. “kind of like saying…” come, come Jennie, you can do better than that. It isn’t “kind of like saying” that women who wear short skirts deserve to get raped at all! Be honest, you knew that was nonsense when you wrote it

    In the past when I’ve done things like leave my keys in the door, I used to consider that stupid behaviour. Clearly you consider it to be making an important lifestyle statement.

    If an attractive 16-year old girl goes to a footballers’ aftermatch party wearing little more than a belt and a bra bearing the legend “rape me” she bears absolutely no responsibility for what may or may not happen next. But I would challenge you to justify that as intelligent behaviour.

    Similarly, if Clarkson chooses to make it as easy as possible for criminals to rip him off, the fact that the crime is wrong doesn’t bring him in line for the Great Brain of Britain award. He wasn’t doing a public service, he was being a pillock. It’s postmodernist twaddle to pretend otherwise.

    Is it really that ridiculous to expect people to take personal security seriously? Your argument is “kind of like saying” that people who install burglar alarms believe that criminals bear no responsibility for their actions.

    As for Clarkson not being his persona of that I have no doubt. But most people who disagree with the persona merely ignore him (as I do 99% of the time) or point fingers and laugh when he cocks up (as I’m doing right now). The people I’m worried about are the ones who take him seriously and agree with him. Having lived with someone like that for a year I can attest that they’re the really dangerous ones.

  8. I’m not saying that what Clarkson did was intelligent, James, I’m saying that pointing and laughing at him for his foolishness is missing the serious point of this: that someone took an eminent celebrity’s /publicly available information/ and took money out of his bank account with it is deeply scary. Clarkson being a tit or not a tit does not alter that fact.

  9. Also, can you not put comment notification on?

    * mutters and grumbles about having to refresh old posts on the off chance someone has replied to her *

  10. The short answer to that is no, I can’t, because that requires adding a plugin I do not as yet have. But comment notification has recently become ubiquitous and I’m aware I need to “get with the programme” so I plan to hunt it down in the next day or so as part of a general plugin orgy.

  11. What he did was more as if, say, the Government had been forced to admit that it had replaced the police force with cardboard cutouts as a saving, and he had declared that this was no problem because thieves didn’t exist, and to prove it he would publish his address.

  12. This is getting surreal – you don’t question the fact that it is insecure, yet you defend his stupidity to publish the information and invite people to breach the security? Maybe he isn’t the biggest moron in the UK after all.

    Thanks for the ad hominem. I thought that you were better than that.

    Publishing information already in the public domain is not stupid. Because it is already public (the clue is in the name). Clarkson should have been able to publish his name, address and bank details with impunity in the newspaper because he had already handed the information out to several thousand merchants around the country.

    I don’t particularly like Jeremy Clarkson: I think he’s an aggressive knob with a bunch of quite distasteful opinions (though I agree with Jennie that it is probably an act). I don’t particularly want to stand up for him – indeed, my first thought on hearing the story was that the thief should really have set up the direct debit to go to some sort of road safety pro-speeding-camera charity because that would only have wound JC up even more.

    However, in this case, we should be appalled not at his intellect or lack thereof, but by the insecurity of the banking system. Direct debits should clearly require some sort of confirmation letter be sent by your bank to your home address before being set up. The fact that they don’t, and that it is the individual’s responsibility to check direct debits after they have been set up is pretty awful. The worst thing is that there is nothing I can do about it, because simply not using direct debits isn’t good enough – someone can always come along and set one up on my account. And it seems that the money would be taken before I even knew about it.

  13. Since the commenter above has already said what I wanted to say about JC, I will simply add: rawr! Plug-in orgy! (you can tell I’m a geeky girl because I find that almost as exciting a prospect as a/normal/ orgy ;))

  14. sanbikinoraion:

    Mea culpa, I was in a spectacularly grumpy mood yesterday and I clearly managed to rub you up the wrong way. It was meant in a jokey way but clearly that wasn’t how it was taken. Apologies.

  15. Are orgies that normal? Fun fact – this month’s copy of “Scarlet” claims that 36% of women in their late 30s regularly have group sex.

    James, no problem, accepted. I am very angry man myself from time to time.

  16. It won’t surpirse you to know James I agree with Jennie and the sand bikini. I’ve banked with Barclays since I was first an undergrad 14 years ago. I’ve had doubts about their corporate policies, their charges, their interest rates and their sponsorship deals. But I’ve never before been that worried about account security, they’re supposed to be fairly good.

    But unlike most banks, they put the full sort code and account number on every debit card, which means mine is imprinted on old swipe style card readers all over Europe and California. My bank statement has it on, and that’s sent by normal mail in branded envelopes, I don’t get every months, they sometimes get lost.

    For a bank that makes your sort code and account number public information to then go and allow this sort of direct debit to happen is really Not Good. Yes, Clarkson’s persona is an arse, but what he said in the initial article should have been completely correct. That you can do stuff with that publicly available info is just bad. Jennie wants me to close my account with them as soon as I’ve cleared the overdraft. This I will now, after 14 years a customer, do. Because for them to have allowed this to happen given how public they make the data is ludicrous.

  17. You can easily take money out of a bank account with just a sort code and account number ..

    You phone the charity.

    Tell them your name and address

    Give them your account and sort code

    Hey Presto – Youve set up a direct debit !

  18. Well I shouldn’t think Clarkson is too bothered.

    With 7 bestselling books, countless DVD’s and a successful motoring show I think he’ll probably be able to stretch to a few thousand.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.