BBC in ‘civil war’ over Gary Lineker climbdown as staff fear MORE stars will score political points in ‘free for all’

A CIVIL war has erupted at the BBC after bosses apologised to Gary Lineker following a row over his inflammatory migrant tweets.

The broadcaster announced yesterday Lineker would return to hosting duties for this weekend’s FA Cup action.

GettyGary Lineker was re-instated yesterday but attracted criticism for his failure to apologise[/caption]

Director General Tim Davie apologised for the “difficult period” for staff, presenters and audiences and revealed a review of social media guidelines would be launched.

But Lineker, 62, faced a wave of fury over the crisis after he failed to apologise himself for his tweet comparing the government’s new migrant plan to 1930s Germany.

The comment attracted criticism from MPs and was branded “offensive” by the Home Secretary.

It is understood staff are now split over the decision to re-instate the veteran pundit – with some accusing the BBC of being “spineless”.

Lee Anderson, deputy chairman of the Conservatives, told The Telegraph: “In football, no player is bigger than the club – but Lineker has shown he is bigger than the BBC.”

Others fear the climbdown will lead to a “free for all” of BBC presenters and journalists expressing political opinions online.

While some senior figures reportedly believe the £1.36million-a-year presenter has done untold damage to the BBC’s reputation.

Craig Mackinlay, MP for South Thanet, said: “Gary Lineker is paid a seven-figure sum annually from BBC licence payers to present football.

“The BBC capitulation with an apology and carte blanche to do as he pleases on social media is remarkable.

“He can now seemingly push his highly political anti-government agenda and cause offence to many with impunity. I know of no other employer who would permit this.”

Lineker said in a brief statement he is “glad we have found a way forward” and threw his support behind the planned review.

The commentator also broke his Twitter silence to double-down on his remarks after what he branded a “surreal few days”.

He said: “I have been presenting sport on the BBC for almost 3 decades and am immeasurably proud to work with the best and fairest broadcaster in the world.

“I cannot wait to get back in the MOTD chair on Saturday.

“A final thought: however difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away. It’s heartwarming to have seen the empathy towards their plight from so many of you.”

The BBC Board has welcomed the agreement, saying it is “the right time” to review its social media guidelines and “impartiality is a cornerstone of the BBC”.

But the decision could prove a humiliating own goal for Mr Davie as they were written at his request in 2020 to include the “Lineker Clause”.

This stated higher-profile presenters had an extra responsibility to avoid taking sides on political issues.

A review – supported by Lineker – will be led by an independent expert in due course.

He will “abide by the editorial guidelines” until that report is complete, Mr Davie confirmed.

But Lineker’s fellow stars believe the decision is a “victory” for them as as the “BBC blinked first”.

There is now also a “huge rift” in the sport department with some staff left outraged by how the row played out, Daily Mail reports.

According to the newspaper, fuming workers confronted director of sport Barbara Slater over how the saga was handled.

Senior political figures – including Jacob Rees-Mogg – have now joined growing calls for the licence fee to be scrapped in the wake of the controversy.

Backbencher Philip Davies said: “This pathetic capitulation by the BBC is the start of the end for the licence fee.”

While Tory MP Marco Longhi told the Sun: “This looks like a BBC capitulation and that its Royal Charter and ethos around impartiality has been trashed.”

The row erupted after Lineker criticised Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s small boats plan.

The legislation will see migrants swiftly detained and removed to either their country of origin or a safe third state within 28 days.

Sharing the clip, Lineker said: “Good heavens, this is beyond awful.”

Responding to another user who described him as “out of order”, he added: “We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries.

“This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?”

Lineker was accused by the BBC of breaking their strict impartiality rules that state staff must “avoid taking sides on political controversies” and “take care when addressing public policy matters”.

The broadcaster said the pundit’s comments were a “breach of our guidelines”.

Ms Braverman later branded his comments “offensive”.

She added: “To kind of throw out those kind of flippant analogies diminishes the unspeakable tragedy that millions of people went through…

“And I don’t think anything that is happening in the UK today can come close to what happened in the Holocaust.”

The broadcaster revealed on Friday Lineker had been suspended and would not host Saturday’s Match of the Day – sparking a mutiny among his co-stars.

Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Jermaine Jenas, Alex Scott, Mark Chapman and Micah Richards refused to fill in with the football analysis show plunged into crisis.

Saturday’s night episode later aired with a stripped-back, 20 minute version that did not even feature the iconic theme tune.

Football FocusFinal Score, the Fighting Talk podcast and 5Live’s 606 football phone in were all canned as schedules were sent spiralling.

Announcing Lineker’s re-instatement yesterday, Mr Davie said: “Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this.

“The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised.

“I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.”

AFPDirector-General Tim Davie announced a review into social media guidelines would be launched[/caption]

AlamyLineker will return to the BBC this weekend for Man City’s clash against Burnley[/caption]

GettyThe BBC has been slammed for apologising to the star[/caption]

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