Gary Lineker returns as BBC reviews social media guidelines

BBC says Gary Lineker will return to host ‘Match of the Day’ next weekend, commenting on controversial issues while independent review of company’s social media guidelines takes place I agreed to avoid

BBC Executive Director Tim Davey apologized for “potential confusion caused by gray areas” in social media guidelines.

Under the BBC’s strict impartiality rules, news and current affairs journalists and other presenters are prohibited from broadcasting on social media opinions that damage the company’s reputation for impartiality.

But the “gray area” includes whether it includes presenters for sports or other programs, especially if you are a freelancer.

Lineker, 62, was taken off the air last week after posting on Twitter that the government’s policy against illegal immigration across the English Channel was using language similar to that used in Germany in the 1930s. .

The former England international centre-forward has 8.8 million followers on Twitter and frequently voices his opinions on non-sporting issues, including politics.

His comments infuriated the ruling Conservative Party, but when the BBC decided that Lineker would “get out” of his main Saturday night show, he was backed by pundits Alan Shearer and Ian Wright. , refused to appear on the show.

Epoch Times photo
BBC ‘Match of the Day’ presenter Gary Lineker with fans in the stands before the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Chelsea at King Power Stadium in Leicester, England, 11 March 2023 is taking a selfie. (Rui Vieira) / AP photo)

Ultimately, as other sports commentators followed suit, the BBC was forced in an unprecedented moment to air a shortened program containing only football highlights and no commentary at all.

In a statement on Monday, Davey said: We apologize for this. ”

“We are aware of the potential confusion caused by the gray area of ​​the BBC’s social media guidance introduced in 2020. We hope to resolve the issue and bring our sports content on air,” he added. I was.

Davey said the BBC’s social media guidelines will be reviewed by independent experts, with a particular focus on how they apply to freelancers outside of news and current affairs.

He said Lineker was “in favor of such reviews” and added that “Gary agreed to follow guidance while an independent review was conducted.”

Lineker said in a short statement: I stand by this review and look forward to it being aired again. ”

Lineker thanks colleagues for ‘show of solidarity’

Also, he wrote on Twitter: I would like to thank everyone for their incredible support, including my colleagues at BBC Sport for an amazing show of solidarity. Football is a team game, but their support was overwhelming. ”

Lineker adds: He has an almost impossible job of keeping everyone happy, especially in the area of ​​equity. ”

The controversy began last Tuesday when the government unveiled the Illegal Immigration Bill. The bill will prohibit people who have arrived in the UK illegally from claiming asylum.

Under the new law, illegal immigrants will be swiftly transferred from the UK to their home country or to a safe third country like Rwanda. In addition, re-entry is prohibited.

Lineker responded to this on Twitter, calling it “a policy of unfathomable cruelty directed at the most vulnerable in a language no different from that used by Germany in the 1930s.”

Foreign Secretary James Cleverley reacted angrily to the remarks.

Although he didn’t name Lineker, Cleverley told LBC:

“The simple truth of the matter is that Britain is a welcoming and hospitable country.”

Following Monday’s announcement that Lineker would be reinstated, opposition Labor leader Sir Kiel Sturmer said it was “a mess made by the BBC itself”.

BBC president’s position ‘increasingly untenable’

He said the position of BBC Chairman Richard Sharp was “increasingly unacceptable”.

Sturmer said, “How the hell did Gary Lineker take off while he’s still in position?”

A former Goldman Sachs banker, Sharp was appointed chairman of the BBC by the government in February 2021.

However, the appointment was frowned upon when it was later revealed that Sharpe had helped former Prime Minister Boris Johnson secure an £800,000 loan facility.

Sharpe is currently under investigation, but both Shadow Prime Minister Rachel Reeves and Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell have questioned his position in light of Lineker’s lawsuit.

Davey denied having “yielded to pressure” from Conservative politicians and media commentators in suspending Lineker, saying it was “a convenient story and not true”.

Davey says: The problem is getting involved in the political affairs of political parties, and we apply it uniquely. ”

The BBC was embroiled in such a major controversy with the government in 2003 that BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan published a radio report claiming that the Labor government had “sexually fabricated” documents about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. is created.

Gilligan’s source, scientist David Kelly, later committed suicide and an investigation led by Lord Hutton was set up to investigate the events leading up to Kelly’s death.

PA Media contributed to this content.