Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has claimed he was thrown out of Argentina by state officials after being pelted with rocks. He said in a tweet that “thousands” of locals rounded on the Top Gear team in apparent protest at a number plate which appeared to refer to the 1982 Falklands war. A Porsche used in filming had a registration plate that read H982 FKL. Clarkson and team had been filming in South America for a Top Gear special.

On his return to the UK Clarkson tweeted: “The number plate WAS a coincidence. When it was pointed out to us, we changed it. Thousands chased crew to border. Someone could have been killed.” He added: “This was not a jolly jape that went awry. For once, we did nothing wrong.”

Clarkson told the Sun newspaper, for which he writes a regular column: “We knew absolutely nothing about the number plate, it was just an unbelievable coincidence. I swear on my kids’ lives.

“When we saw people on Twitter getting upset we took the plate off. But they still attacked us so we made a break for it to our hotel in Ushuaia. The mob just descended on the hotel and encircled us. State representatives came and ordered us out of the country.”

He added: “I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan but this was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever been involved in. “There were hundreds of them. They were hurling rocks and bricks at our cars. They were trying to attack us with pickaxe handles. “They were shouting. ‘Burn their cars, burn them, burn the pirates’. I am convinced the mob was state organised.”

In a tweet, he said the programme’s crew “abandoned our cars as they thought they might be what was making people angry”. The BBC confirmed the show’s decision to leave, but denied the offending car was chosen for its number plate.