Gary Lineker says he does not fear BBC suspension over asylum policy tweeton March 9, 2023 at 3:50 pm

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The Match of the Day host said he stands by his tweet that criticised the government’s asylum policy.

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Gary Lineker has said he does not fear BBC suspension in an impartiality row over a tweet criticising the government’s asylum policy.

Asked by reporters outside his home whether he stood by his tweet, the Match of the Day host said: “Course”.

Lineker had compared the language the government used to set out asylum plans to “that used by Germany in the 30s”.

The culture secretary said the presenter’s tweets were “disappointing and inappropriate”.

Lucy Frazer said it was “important for the BBC to retain impartiality if it is to retain the trust of the public who pay the licence fee”.

The BBC said on Wednesday it was having a “frank conversation” with Lineker about the BBC’s guidelines on remaining impartial.

Lineker was asked by a group of reporters outside his London home on Thursday whether he feared “getting suspended” and he answered: “No.”

The corporation’s former editorial policy controller Richard Ayre said the presenter had a choice to make over his role at the BBC.

He said Lineker must consider whether to stay or to leave and “become a social media influencer”.

On Tuesday, the government outlined its plans to ban people arriving in the UK illegally from ever claiming asylum, in a bid to address a rise in the number of people crossing the Channel in small boats.

Opposition MPs and charities have strongly objected to the proposals, but the PM and home secretary have defended the plan, saying stopping the crossings is a priority for the British people.

Responding to some of the criticism on Wednesday, Lineker tweeted: “I’ll continue to try and speak up for those poor souls that have no choice.”

Lineker, 62, who has presented Match of the Day since 1999 also works for LaLiga TV.

Responding to a question in the Commons Ms Frazer said: “As somebody whose grandmother escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s I think it’s really disappointing and inappropriate to compare government policy on immigration events to events in Germany in the 1930s.

“The BBC is operationally independent and I’m pleased the BBC will be speaking to Gary Lineker to remind him of his responsibilities in relation to social media.”

Former culture secretary Sir John Whittingdale said the BBC’s requirement to be politically impartial should cover “all those who are presenters on the BBC” and urged ministers to ensure the mid-term review of the BBC’s charter would “cover enforcement of this rule on freelancers as well as full-time employees”.

Mr Ayre, a former member of the broadcasting regulator Ofcom’s content board, said it was “unacceptable” to have someone who works for the BBC “comparing Suella Braverman to the third Reich”.

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