MOTD host ‘a bit to blame for mess’
VETERAN BBC journalist John Simpson has accused Gary Lineker of helping create the mess that the corporation has found itself in over the Match Of The Day presenter’s antiTory tweets.
The 78-year-old war correspondent said Lineker ‘ must have known’ that talking about the Government’s immigration policy was going to be ‘tricky’. Simpson, who presents his own Unspun World series, said he would not have done it in that way.
While the BBC, including director-general Tim Davie, have been highly criticised for their handling of the issue, Simpson suggested Lineker, 62, was not without blame.
Fellow presenters, pundits and commentators pulled out of last Saturday’s Match Of The Day after Lineker was stood down over the row.
On Monday the BBC said he would return this weekend, despite not apologising for his controversial tweet. On Radio 4’s The Media Show yesterday, Simpson was asked if he agreed it had been ‘a mess of the BBC’s making’.
He replied: ‘Well, I think it’s been a mess.’ Pushed by presenter Ros Atkins, he added: ‘Well, I mean, actually to be honest, I think Gary Lineker helped a bit. A lot of people will support exactly what he said about refugees... I wouldn’t have done it in the way that he did it. I would have found other ways of expressing it.
‘But... it doesn’t look good. It’s awkward. It’s really difficult and embarrassing. I just think it was a fantastic own goal. As I understand it, the Government... never put any private pressure on. [It] was something we did to ourselves.’