BBC staff protest presenter’s suspension after Twitter comment

On Saturday, pundits and commentators refused to work in support of presenter Gary Lineker, who was forced to "step back" after accusing the government of using Nazi-era rhetoric.

Lineker, England's fourth most prolific goalscorer, sparked an impartiality row by criticizing the British government's new anti-illegal immigration policy.
On Twitter, the 62-year-old compared the language used to launch the new policy to that of Nazi-era Germany, which the BBC called a "breach of our guidelines" on Friday.

"The BBC has decided that he will step down as a Match of the Day presenter until we have an agreed and clear position on his use of social media," the broadcaster said in a statement.

Lineker is a freelance broadcaster for the BBC, not a permanent member of staff, and because he is not responsible for news or political content, he is not subject to the same strict impartiality rules.

Pundits and former England strikers Ian Wright and Alan Shearer both tweeted that they would not participate, as did the show's commentators.

On Saturday, Wright said on his podcast that if Lineker was fired permanently, he would leave the BBC.

The BBC announced that the highlights show, which has been a Saturday night staple since 1964 and is the world's longest-running football television show, would air without pundits or a presenter for the first time.

It also stated that no interviews would be requested of the players after some indicated they would not be available to support Lineker.

To add to the confusion, presenters and pundits pulled out of a slew of BBC radio and television shows, forcing them to be canceled and replaced with repeats and podcasts instead of the usual live coverage of the packed Saturday sports schedule.

"We apologize for these changes, which we understand will be disappointing for BBC sport fans," the broadcaster said.

"We are working hard to resolve the situation and hope to have it resolved soon."

Lineker did not speak to reporters, but he was seen at his hometown club Leicester City's Premier League match against Chelsea.

- 'Immensely cruel' - The row erupted in response to Lineker's response to a video in which Home Secretary Suella Braverman unveiled plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel in small boats.

Lineker, the BBC's highest-paid personality, tweeted, "This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 1930s."

To stop the crossings, which totaled more than 45,000 last year, the Conservative government intends to outlaw all asylum claims by illegal immigrants and transfer them to other countries such as Rwanda.

According to a YouGov poll released on Monday, 50 percent support the measures, while 36 percent oppose them.

However, rights groups and the UN said the legislation would make Britain an international outlaw under European and UN asylum conventions.

36 Tory MPs have written to the BBC, warning that the scandal will "undoubtedly shake many people's already fragile confidence" in the corporation's impartiality.

The BBC's decision sparked outrage among politicians and public figures, with many accusing it of caving in to Conservative lawmakers' demands.

The BBC "got this one badly wrong, and now they're very, very exposed," said opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer, while a petition calling for Lineker's reinstatement has nearly 160,000 signatures.

- Social media caution - Former BBC director general Greg Dyke stated that the broadcaster made a mistake.

"The real problem today is that the BBC has undermined its own credibility by doing this," he told the BBC, adding that it could give the impression that the "BBC has bowed to government pressure."

The controversy has brought to a head years of debate about the BBC's impartiality, which erupted after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in 2016.

Brexit supporters claimed that the media was biased against them, while the left claimed that presenters were allowed to make disparaging remarks about former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The Lineker saga comes after allegations that BBC chairman Richard Sharp facilitated a loan guarantee for former Prime Minister Boris Johnson while he was applying for the job.

Leave A Comment


Subscribe to our newsletter to stay.

Sponsor Ad