The BBC has been accused of ‘burying their heads in the sand’ as Gary Lineker was ambiguous about his comments comparing the government’s crackdown on migrants to Nazi Germany
While the company remained silent on the controversy today, Lineker defiantly resumed posting to social media this morning, saying he had never known so much “love and support.”
But political pressure over his comments mounted today as Downing Street described the criticism as ‘unacceptable’ and ‘disappointing’, while the Home Secretary, Ms Braverman, said his comments were ‘irresponsible’. Immigration Secretary Robert Jenrick added that he was “so far out of step with the British public”.
The BBC is facing calls from MPs to sack the company’s highest-paid star, who earns £1.35 million a year, over the “outrageous slur” he made in a tweet yesterday.
Amid a sense of growing crisis over the row, BBC insiders said it was time for the company’s director-general, Tim Davie, to “make an important call” to Lineker, adding “it is now about the courage that Tim has’. They added it was one of the “biggest tests” Mr Davie has endured during his tenure.
Gary Lineker ‘crossed a line’ by comparing Suella Braverman’s crackdown on migrants to Nazi Germany, BBC sources said last night
BBC insiders said it was time for the company’s director general Tim Davie to ‘make a key call’ on Lineker, adding ‘it’s now about the courage Tim has’
The company’s highest-paid star, who earns £1.35 million a year, will be reprimanded by bosses for attacking the Home Secretary’s plans to ‘stop the boats’. Suella Braverman told BBC Breakfast today that Gary Lineker’s comments were disappointing
Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker compared the government’s crackdown on migrants to Nazi Germany
Many were surprised that instead of avoiding further controversy, Lineker was back on Twitter this morning
They added to Lineker, “I think he’s past the tipping point of harming us.”
Another BBC source said they expected Lineker to leave the company because of the row.
This comes amid reports that the Match of the Day presenter, 62, is not responding to BBC calls about the controversy and will not delete the tweet. But claims that he did not respond to calls were refuted today.
In yesterday’s controversy, the TV presenter had shared a video online in which Suella Braverman outlined the illegal migration law, then accused her of promoting an “immeasurably brutal policy targeting the most vulnerable in a language not widely spoken.” resembles that of Germany in the 1930s.’.
Rishi Sunak said migrant removal flights to Rwanda could begin by the summer
A group of people, believed to be migrants, are being brought into Dover, Kent, on Monday on board a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the English Channel.
A source at the BBC said journalists from the company’s news department are “boiling” at the star’s social media posts, adding that “impartiality should be sacred.” There are concerns that Lineker is ‘damaging the perception of the BBC in general’.
Speaking to Katie Razzall, the company’s media editor, on Radio 4’s Today program this morning, presenter Nick Robinson said: ‘Let’s be clear, if you or I said something like that we’d be fired’.
He added that if Lineker says he will continue in the same way, “they have to decide from the director general whether to fire a guy who is very popular and very good at what he does.”
It is expected that the Director General will have to deal with the situation personally with Lineker.
Gary Lineker’s long list of Twitter controversies
Gary Lineker breached the BBC’s impartiality rules with a social media post criticizing the Tories, the broadcaster’s complaints team ruled.
The 62-year-old host of the Match of the Day quoted an article on Twitter about Liz Truss – the then foreign minister – urging Premier League teams to boycott the Champions League final in Russia.
In his post, the former England striker, who has more than 8.7 million followers on Twitter, added: “And her party will return their donations from Russian donors?”.
Lineker sparked a row with a senior BBC journalist this year with a tweet about sewage.
He wrote on Twitter: “As a politician, how could you ever, under any circumstances, bring yourself to vote for pumping sewage into our seas? Inscrutable!’
The tweet prompted veteran BBC journalist Neil Henderson, a domestic and international news editor, to ask the £1.35 million-a-year presenter if his contract allowed him to breach the company’s impartiality rules.
The journalist wrote to him: ‘The BBC stands or falls by its impartiality. If you can’t bear it, get rid of it.”
Mr Henderson later apologized after talks with BBC bosses.
Lineker was at odds with ex-driver turned Sky commentator Martin Brundle, over his response to a Just Stop Oil protest.
Protesters stormed the British Grand Prix, angering Brundle, who said they could have been killed.
Lineker tweeted: “History will look back on these people very positively.”
But Brundle replied, “Gary, please don’t encourage this reckless behavior. “They would have been cut into 100 pieces and fans, marshals and drivers were at risk of injury and death. I fully support freedom of speech and expression, but do it responsibly.”
Lineker was challenged over his comments on Brexit by BBC cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew.
Lineker has spoken out against Brexit, including on Twitter and attending a rally in 2018 that called for a second referendum.
Agnew responded to one of Lineker’s posts, tweeting, “Gary. You are the face of BBC Sport. Please adhere to the BBC’s editorial guidelines and keep your political views, whatever they are and whatever the subject, to yourself. I would be fired if I followed your example. Thank you.’
Yesterday BBC News approached Mr Davie for comment on the matter and asked him how many ‘strikes’ the presenter has had so far.
He replied, ‘I wouldn’t talk specifically about individuals, I don’t think it’s right.
“I think the BBC absolutely values impartiality and that is clearly important to us.”
Many were surprised that instead of avoiding further controversy, Lineker was back on Twitter this morning.
He wrote: ‘Tomorrow everyone. Is there something going on?’
He added: “Great to see freedom of speech champions out in force this morning demanding silence from those they disagree with.”
“I’ve never known so much love and support in my life as this morning (not counting England’s World Cup goals, possibly),” he also wrote. “I’ll keep trying to stand up for those poor souls who don’t have a voice.”
Yesterday, the BBC declined to comment on Lineker’s latest comments.
Tory MP Peter Bone told The Mail+: ‘There’s no point in burying your head in the sand and hoping it passes. It will not. He’ll do it again anyway.’
He added: “If they don’t reprimand Mr. Lineker, what they say is their policy is not true.”
Conservative MP, Scott Benton, added: “The BBC’s silence on this issue is a shocking indictment of their leadership and it really is about time they stood up and made it clear that if someone breaches their own code of conduct, then about this kind of politicization issues they should be shown the door.’
Acting chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, Tory MP, Damian Green, told The Mail+: ‘Gary Lineker has become a serial offender against all the guidelines the BBC seems to have. The BBC management should definitely take action this time.’
There were suggestions yesterday that Lineker would be reprimanded “very soon” as it was clear a “boundary has been crossed”.
But today, the company stands by its earlier statement: “Individuals who work for us are aware of their social media responsibilities. If necessary, we have appropriate internal processes.’
Today the Prime Minister’s press secretary said: ‘It is clearly disappointing to see someone whose salary is funded by hard-working British (license fee) payers use that sort of rhetoric and seemingly dismiss their legitimate concerns about small boat crossings and illegal migration seems to indicate. .
“But apart from that, it’s up to the BBC, who I think today said they’ll have a meeting with Gary Lineker, and it’s not for me to comment further.”
Ms Braverman had told ITV’s Good Morning Britain (GMB) that she was ‘very disappointed’ by his comments.
She added: “To equate our measures – which are lawful, necessary and fundamentally compassionate – to 1930s Germany is irresponsible and I disagree with that characterization.”
When asked whether Lineker should step down or be sacked, she replied: ‘That’s a matter for the BBC and they will sort it out.’
Mr Jenrick told Times Radio: ‘My children are the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors and I think words like this should not be taken lightly.
“Gary Lineker is paid by the British taxpayer and it is disappointing that he is so far out of step with the British public.”
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper also said after the comments that she “didn’t think it was right to make comparisons with the 1930s,” but “people are allowed to have their own opinion.”