Jeremy Clarkson reportedly told BBC bosses about the fracas which led to his suspension himself, as a family who witnessed the incident claimed the Top Gear star told his colleague he would have him fired.
The row which has drawn in the Prime Minister, the director-general of the BBC and led to 800,000 people signing a petition to save his job was over an alleged punch thrown at producer Oisin Tymon, when the presenter thought he could not have a £21.95 hot steak.
According to reports, the 54-year-old called BBC director of TV Danny Cohen himself to report the bust-up in an apparent attempt to manage the situation.
The Sun quoting a source as saying: “It seems he knew he had done wrong and wanted to take control of the situation and play it down before it leaked out anyway.”
The fracas, as it was called officially by the BBC, was just “pushing and shoving”, the source told the paper.
Clarkson was staying at the Simonstone Hall Hotel near Hawes, North Yorkshire, and came into the bar at around 9.30pm after a day of filming last Wednesday.
According to an interview with Sky News, Bob Ward, 60, from Leeds, who was also staying there with wife Denise, brother Alan and his wife Sue, asked for a selfie with the millionaire presenter.
Mr Ward said the star replied: “No, not with the day I have had.”
The sales rep then “sat down with my tail between his legs”, he told the broadcaster.
Sue Ward, 54, a medical receptionist, claimed Clarkson then said “it was ridiculous there was nothing to eat” and she said he thought the colleague had not done his job properly.
“Obviously there lots of expletives in between all this,” she added.
She said Clarkson told the colleague “he would see to it that he would be losing his job”.
Her sister-in-law Denise was shocked, although she did understand Clarkson turning down the request for a selfie.
She told Sky News: “It was just the swearing and the length of time and this poor guy he was ripping into.”
Alan Ward, a Top Gear fan, felt Clarkson should not lose his job over the incident.
“He is brash, we know what he is like,” he said. “He has been in trouble before, I think he will be in trouble again.
“But I don’t think he will lose his job at the BBC because without Clarkson, there’s no Top Gear I don’t think.”
The Top Gear star has attracted high profile support with David Cameron calling him a “huge talent” and saying he hoped the situation could be resolved so his children would not be left “heartbroken”.
BBC director-general Tony Hall has also said he was a “fan” of Clarkson, but added that allegations of a fracas were “serious”.
A BBC disciplinary panel has already been convened to decide his fate.
Ken MacQuarrie, the head of BBC Scotland who conducted the investigation into Newsnight’s false expose of Lord McAlpine, is to chair the panel with witnesses expected to be called by the end of the week.
A lawyer for Mr Tymon said his client “intends to await the outcome of the BBC investigation and will make no comment until that investigation is complete”.
Clarkson himself has joked about his position, telling reporters he was “just off to the job centre” and later changing his Twitter profile to read: “I am probably a presenter on the BBC2 motoring show, Top Gear.”
The star could walk away from the show when his contract runs out at the end of the month.
All three of the show’s hosts were understood to be days away from signing new contracts that would have kept them at the wheel of the show for another three years when Clarkson was suspended.
The BBC owns the rights to the Top Gear brand, which is valued at £50 million, and includes the show, DVD rights and live shows, raising the prospect of Top Gear continuing on the BBC while Clarkson takes a similar show to one of its rivals.