Daily Mail


■ Staff ‘boiling’ with anger at star’s disdain for rules they obey ■ He fails to apologise for Nazi slur – and doubles down ■ Beeb crisis talks as insiders say he’s ‘passed a tipping point’

- By Paul Revoir Media Editor

GARY Lineker’s future at the BBC was hanging in the balance last night.

The corporatio­n’s news staff were said to be ‘boiling’ with anger that the Match of the Day host’s anti-Tory tweets flout strict impartiali­ty rules that they have to obey.

BBC bosses are wrestling with what to do about Lineker – their highest-paid star on £1.35 million a year – after he doubled down on remarks that likened the migrant crackdown to Nazi Germany. But amid calls for him to be sacked, Lineker defiantly resumed tweeting about the politicall­y charged topic.

He told his Twitter followers yesterday that he had never known such ‘love and support’ and said he would ‘continue to try and speak

up’. BBC sources say Lineker will be rebuked over his latest remarks – but the corporatio­n refused to make any new statement yesterday.

Director-general Tim Davie chose his words carefully when asked about the controvers­y, saying: ‘The BBC absolutely puts the highest value on impartiali­ty and that’s clearly important to us.’

The row erupted on Tuesday after Lineker shared a video on Twitter of Home Secretary Suella Braverman outlining the Illegal Migration Bill, and wrote next to it: ‘Good heavens, this is beyond awful.’ The former England footballer went on to accuse Mrs Braverman of promoting an ‘immeasurab­ly cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s’.

Lineker’s remarks triggered a wave of criticism from Tories and even BBC staff.

As the corporatio­n’s bosses dithered over how to respond, there were claims from Conservati­ve MPs that they were ‘sticking their head in the sand’ over the row.

Downing Street described Lineker’s criticism as ‘not acceptable’ and ‘disappoint­ing’, while Mrs Braverman said his comments were ‘irresponsi­ble’.

Immigratio­n minister Robert Jenrick,

whose wife’s parents were Holocaust survivors, said the presenter was ‘so far out of step with the British public’ and should be ‘shown a red card’.

There are concerns at the BBC that Lineker was ‘harming the perception’ of the broadcaste­r, a source said. One insider added: ‘Lots of BBC journalist­s are boiling about it because impartiali­ty must be sacrosanct.’

Another insider said it was time for Mr Davie to ‘ make a key call’ on Lineker’s future, adding: ‘It’s now about the mettle Tim has got.’ They added that it was one of the ‘biggest tests’ Mr Davie has faced during his time in charge.

A separate source at the BBC said they expected Lineker to leave the corporatio­n over the row.

BBC Radio 4 Today programme presenter Nick Robinson yesterday highlighte­d the discrepanc­y with the strict rules about impartiali­ty that the broadcaste­r’s news staff must follow. He said to the corporatio­n’s media editor Katie Razzall: ‘Let’s be clear, if you or I said something like this, we would be fired.’

Robinson added that if Lineker carried on in the same manner, ‘they’ve got to decide from the director general down whether they fire a guy who is very popular and very good at what he does’.

Many were astonished that, rather than avoiding any further controvers­y, Lineker was back on Twitter yesterday morning. He said: ‘ Great to see the freedom of speech champions out in force this morning demanding silence from those with whom they disagree. I have never known such love and support in my life than I’m getting this morning... I’ll continue to try and speak up for those poor souls that have no voice.’

Tory MP Peter Bone said of the BBC: ‘There is no point sticking their head in the sand and hoping it will go away. It won’t. He will do it again.’

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said she did not think it was ‘ right to make comparison­s with the 1930s’, but ‘people can have their own views’.

A spokesman for Lineker declined to comment.

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