Jeremy Clarkson suffered a backlash for joking that public sector strikers should be executed in front of their families (Reuters)

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson did not breach broadcasting rules when joking that striking public sector workers should be shot, regulator Ofcom has said.

Clarkson sparked outrage by joking that he would have two million striking public sector works executed in front of their families.

He made the joke on prime-time BBC programme The One Show.

Unions consulted lawyers on whether to take action after the comments, though none was taken.

Eventually Clarkson and the BBC apologised for the joke.

Ofcom recognised that the comments were "controversial and potentially offensive", but said that the context of the comments justified them.

In all there were 736 complaints to Ofcom about Clarkson's comments, and over 31,000 complaints made directly to the BBC.

Ofcom was responding directly to a complaint by Unite union's assistant general secretary, Bronwyn McKenna.

Clarkson has a long history of making controversial jokes, including that lorry drivers routinely murder prostitutes and that the head of a Korean car manufacturer had "eaten a dog".