BBC pull Gary Lineker OFF THE AIR in major U-turn after MoTD host compared UK migrant policy to 1930s Germany
THE BBC will pull Match of the Day host Gary Lineker off the air after he compared new immigration legislation to 1930s Germany.
In a major U-turn, the broadcaster announced Lineker would be suspended from his presenting duties after previously saying he would face no disciplinary action.
SplashGary Lineker will be taken off the air amid a row over a tweet concerning UK immigration policy[/caption]
BBCHe has presented Match of the Day since 1999[/caption]
GettyHe has faced backlash for his tweets comparing the Government’s new immigration legislation to 1930s Germany[/caption]
They added that the suspension will remain in place until an agreement is reached on his social media use.
Meanwhile, fellow presenter and former Arsenal star Ian Wright announced that he would refuse to be on the show tomorrow after the news broke.
Mr Wright tweeted: “Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.”
It comes after Mr Lineker sparked major backlash this week when he took to Twitter to hit out at the Illegal Migration Bill, which bans migrants who arrive on small boats from ever settling in Britain.
A BBC statement said: “The BBC has been in extensive discussions with Gary and his team in recent days. We have said that we consider his recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines.
“The BBC has decided that he will step back from presenting Match of the Day until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.
“When it comes to leading our football and sports coverage, Gary is second to none. We have never said that Gary should be an opinion free zone, or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies.”
A spokesperson added that the Beeb considered Mr Lineker’s “recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines” and that he should “keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies”.
However, Sky News’ Rob Harris tweeted that a source close to the long-time presenter had revealed that he has not agreed to “step back” and is claiming that the BBC took him off the air.
Mr Harris added: “It’s understood Lineker is unwilling to apologise for his tweets and admit he should not have posted them.”
The BBC have been approached for comment regarding this claim.
The row ignited after Mr Lineker tweeted in reference to the Government’s new immigration bill, saying: “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?”
The legislation will see migrants swiftly detained and removed to either their country of origin or a safe third state within 28 days.
But the bill faces an uphill battle against human rights groups and campaigners who argue it clashes with the European Convention on Human Rights.
The BBC’s decision to suspend him represents an about turn after a BBC source previously said: “We have spoken to Gary and he won’t face any disciplinary action.
“From our perspective the situation has been resolved now and we want him to get back to what he’s best at, which is being a brilliant sports presenter.”
Mr Linker himself previously addressed the controversy, saying: “Well, it’s been an interesting couple of days. Happy that this ridiculously out of proportion story seems to be abating and very much looking forward to presenting Match of the Day on Saturday.
“Thanks again for all your incredible support. It’s been overwhelming.”
He declared yesterday morning that he stands by his tweets hitting out at Rishi Sunak’s crackdown on illegal migration.
Outside his London home, the the defiant presenter told reporters he isn’t scared of being sacked for expressing political views.
He added: “I have never known such love and support in my life than I’m getting this morning (England World Cup goals aside, possibly).
“I want to thank each and every one of you. It means a lot. I’ll continue to try and speak up for those poor souls that have no voice. Cheers all.”
The former England captain began presenting the Beeb’s flagship football show, Match of the Day in 1999.
He has been regarded as one of the key faces on English football in the year since and was praised by ex-BBC chief Richard Ayre. who described him as “one of the BBC’s crown jewels”.
However, Mr Ayre warned that the corporation might need to “let Lineker go unless he can be certain that this is the end of it”, referring to his social media activity.
Mr Lineker has been accused by Tory MPs of frequently pushing boundaries of BBC impartiality guidelines.
Previously, the broadcaster’s complaints team found him guilty of breaking impartiality rules in a tweet asking if the Tories planned to “hand back their donations from Russian donors”.
In defence of Mr Lineker, TalkTV’s Piers Morgan wrote: “This is a ridiculous decision and if the BBC really believes its presenters shouldn’t have political opinions then I look forward to them suspending David Attenborough and Alan Sugar and everyone else who has presented BBC shows but makes public their opinions.”
SplashMr Lineker previously said that the controversy had been blown ‘ridiculously out of proportion’[/caption]
The Mega AgencyTalk TV’s Piers Morgan sprang to his defence on the grounds that a number of BBC stars have expressed political opinions publicly[/caption]