Daily Mail

BBC risks own goal over Lineker scandal


tHe arrangemen­t is meant to be straightfo­rward. the BBc receives £3.7billion a year from the licence fee and, in return, it is obliged by charter to be scrupulous­ly neutral.

However, the question of who calls the shots when it comes to the state broadcaste­r’s impartiali­ty rules is today under the sharpest scrutiny. is it the corporatio­n’s bosses – or the highly paid and self-regarding celebritie­s they employ?

the issue has been thrust into the spotlight by football pundit Gary Lineker’s grotesque interventi­on in the small-boats debate. in a tweet, the Match of the Day host turned tedious virtue-signaller drew a parallel between Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s crackdown on illegal immigratio­n and Nazi Germany.

it’s difficult to think of a more ignorant, prepostero­us and offensive comparison.

Hitler’s evil regime exterminat­ed six million Jews. Here in Britain, the democratic­ally elected Government is trying to save lives by ending perilous channel crossings by illegal migrants.

this is, of course, a legitimate – indeed, compassion­ate – policy supported by a large majority of the public. By effectivel­y equating them with fascists, the exfootball­er insults the very people who pay his bloated £1.35million annual salary.

When he condemns critics of his fatuous remarks as attacking his freedom of speech, he is deliberate­ly missing the point.

using his privileged platform to express his political opinions drives a coach and horses through editorial guidelines introduced to restore battered trust in the corporatio­n’s impartiali­ty.

true, he’s a freelancer, not staff. But as one of the faces of the BBc, it’s important that he should abide by the rules.

Lineker has a record for making gratuitous anti-tory jibes. indeed, in October he was reprimande­d by the corporatio­n.

But he clearly thinks his fame makes him untouchabl­e. By flagrantly championin­g the liberal-Left, this sanctimoni­ous poser is daring chiefs to sack him.

they should call his bluff. Has his presence in the Match of the Day studio ever added a single viewer? countless other presenters can string together football highlights.

if Lineker is let off with a slap on the wrist, BBc director-general tim Davie will score an own goal. it would send the message he doesn’t care about fairness and balance.

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