Jeremy Clarkson was thrown a 'sacking' party by millionaire socialite Jemima Goldsmith last night.
The 54-year-old star had dinner and drinks with close friends at the aristocrat's west London mansion hours after he was fired by the BBC for punching Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon over a steak dinner.
Girlfriend Phillipa Sage, chef Heston Blumenthal, comedian Angus Deayton and Boris Johnson's journalist sister Rachel joined him to drown his sorrows - but his Top Gear co-stars James May and Richard Hammond were not there.
Despite the party thrown in his honour Clarkson looked grim-faced as he was hugged outside, leaving for home at around 1am with Ms Sage and Ms Johnson.
It came as police launched an official investigation into the Top Gear punch-up and and interviewed witnesses to the 30-second attack.
The sacked presenter has been close friends with Ms Goldsmith, previously known as Khan because of her marriage to former Pakistan cricket captain Imran Khan, for many years.
In 2011 there were even false rumours they had an affair and she tweeted she was 'trapped in a bloody nightmare' amid incorrect claims intimate photographs existed of her with the presenter.
Friends says she was also a pillar of strength during the recent break-up of his marriage and Ms Sage, 45, has been a feature in Jeremy's life since 2010, while he was still in a relationship with his wife Frances.
Angus Deayton may have been invited to last night's party to give advice to the Top Gear presenter, having been sacked by the BBC as host of Have I Got News for You after a sex and drugs scandal in 2002.
Clarkson was sacked by the BBC yesterday and could be arrested by police after giving Oisin Tymon a split lip in a row over a steak dinner at a luxury hotel.
North Yorkshire Police said today it has a duty to investigate 'where we believe an offence might have been committed' as experts claimed the Clarkson, 54, may be charged with actual bodily harm.
Mr Clarkson has not been interviewed but officers have asked to speak to Mr Tymon to see if he would like the presenter prosecuted for punching him.
But detectives could still pursue the case even if the producer refuses to complain about being punched.
The force said it was investigating after complaints from 'concerned members of the public' because 'no-one at the hotel during the incident came forward,' a spokesman said.
Former Scotland Yard chief inspector Peter Kirkham believes he may be charged with ABH or common assault, which has a maximum sentence of six months in prison.
The police investigation is unlikely to put off suitors because he would be worth an extra £20million per year to commercial broadcasters, experts said today.
His sacking could cost the BBC up to £67million a year, the amount it makes selling the show in more than 200 countries and add-ons like live shows and magazine sales.
There is now a bidding war for Clarkson's services, who is likely to take Richard Hammond and James May with him, but despite Rupert Murdoch calling his sacking 'stupid' it appears Sky will not take him on.
James May said today: 'I can't see Jeremy Clarkson having very many serious problems in his working life in the long run. He's extremely good at what he does.'
Sky are said to have pulled out of the race to sign the star, 54, for a new driving show because bosses fear he is no longer family friendly.
Today, Clarkson was spotted riding his bike near his west London home following a secret meeting with co-star James May and Top Gear boss Andy Wilman.
The presenter was seen being dropped back to his bicycle by Mr Wilman, as James May laughed in the passenger seat. It is not yet known where the trio met exactly, but it is likely they were plotting their next career move.
Following the secret talk, Clarkson collected his bike and cycled back to his home, where he was greeted by a sea of reporters.
Asked what he would like to say to Top Gear fans who may be upset, Clarkson replied: 'Everybody's upset.'
Returning to his home shortly after 3.30pm, the star refused to answer when asked if he was worried about being arrested.
Instead, he said: 'All I would like to say is ... I wish people would leave Oisin alone because none of this was his fault.'
It came as his final piece in Top Gear magazine was published, which said making a rival show 'isn't hard'.
In an article written before his sacking the star, who is likely mulling over ideas for a new motoring show, told unhappy viewers to 'get off your a*** and help yourself'.
He added that without Top Gear's financial success the BBC would show 'the test card from midnight till dawn.'
A Sky senior source told RadioTimes.com today that the broadcaster was 'not interested' in signing him, adding: 'We couldn't put Jeremy Clarkson on any Sky channels, especially those which are part of a family package deal and then face another controversy round the corner'.
But it may be Netflix - which has a £3.4billion programming budget - who may be best placed to woo Clarkson.
Industry insiders believe that he would be give him complete control of any new Top Gear-inspired show.
The online subscription video service does not depend on advertising income, so would allow him free rein to make controversial remarks about cars, without the risk of offending customers.
Clarkson, who is worth £30million, could make much more money than from his previous BBC deal.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, tweeted last week: 'Jeremy Clarkson will start his own show syndicated worldwide and own the rights and make a billion dollars. You heard it here first.'
Media commentator Neil Midgley told The Times: 'It would be a really interesting hire for Netflix as Clarkson is one of the very few examples of onscreen British talent who is not a film star but has global appeal, which is what Netflix wants.
'The danger of going to ITV or Sky is that he launches some less than Top Gear programme - a Second Gear - which is a pale imitation and they find that he isn't, in himself, that big a draw.'
BBC creative director Alan Yentob said last night he would not rule out Clarkson returning to the BBC 'but that's not for now'.
Mr Yentob also said he hoped Hammond and May would stay - but this is said to be hanging in the balance after their friend's sacking.
Sources have told MailOnline that ITV are prepared to offer him £10million to sign for them, with Clarkson's executive producer and schoolfriend Andy Wilman having reportedly met with them.
James May again hinted he may leave the BBC.
He said today the BBC's Beeb's decision not to renew Clarkson's contract as 'very harsh' and 'a very big moment in our lives'.
And asked whether he would be staying with Top Gear, May said: 'Not necessarily.'
Speaking outside his west London home today, May said he was yet to speak to Clarkson since yesterday's announcement by the Beeb, but admitted he was 'sad' about the decision.
He also confirmed he would 'not necessarily' be staying with Top Gear, suggesting it was time to 'go back to normal life' after the 'fluke' success of the cult BBC Two show over the last 12 years.
Asked about Clarkson's sacking, May said: 'Yes, I am sad. We did it for 12 years. It's a very big moment in our lives, but nothing was going to last forever. We always knew it wasn't going to last forever. We just didn't know how it was going to end.
'Things are supposed to end in a whimper so maybe we've broken the mould a bit.'
Asked if he thought Clarkson's sacking was the right decision, he said: 'It was a very harsh one, but I think they were probably forced.
'I don't actually know the entire story. A lot of people are making judgements about it, but they don't know the full story either so I don't know.
'This only happened yesterday. We have to spend a lot of time thinking about what we do next.'
Asked what he planned to do next, May said: 'I don't know. I need to think about it.'
Asked if that was because Clarkson had been dumped, he said: 'It's not just that, I might want to do something completely different with my life, I'm quite old now. (I might do) something outside of cars, I always wanted to be a teacher.'
Asked about the fans' reaction, May said: 'There's been a lot of reaction on social media. I feel for the fans most to be honest because in the end they haven't seen our last three films that we made which we were quite pleased with.
Asked if Clarkson's latest outburst had been the last straw for BBC directors after a string of controversies, May said: 'I don't know really, I don't know how the senior BBC mind works. I'm only a freelance TV presenter and, in many ways, it's all just been a massive fluke.
'I always said that on the day it ends for me I'll have to be magnanimous and look back and say 'well that was a stroke of luck, now back to normal life', and that seems to have happened.
'So here I go, I'm about to eat some beans and go back to my normal life..
- Daily Mail