Gary Lineker, former England footballer and presenter of BBC’s Match of the Day, was suspended by the BBC after tweeting about the government’s asylum policy, calling it “immeasurably cruel”.
Lineker’s agent, Jon Holmes, revealed that Lineker believed he had a “special agreement” with the BBC’s director general, Tim Davie, to tweet about refugees and immigration.
Social media guidelines for some BBC staff were described as “a bit vague”, and the situation led to a staff walk-out. The BBC apologised for the disruption and is set to review its social media rules.
Lineker’s suspension sparked a boycott by presenters, which severely impacted football coverage for two days.
Despite the disagreement, Lineker will return to screens this weekend after an agreement was reached with the BBC, and an independent review of social media rules at the corporation was announced.
Davie acknowledged that there are “grey areas” when it comes to the impartiality guidelines applied to freelance staff.
“Gary takes a passionate interest in refugees and immigration and, as he saw it, had a special agreement with Tim Davie, the BBC’s director general, to tweet about these issues.”
Gary Lineker thought he had "special agreement" with BBC's director general to tweet about refugees and immigration, agent says https://t.co/JDAn6ELz6o— British Politics (@BritPolNEWS) March 16, 2023
He said social media guidelines for some BBC staff were “a bit vague”, but said his client “assiduously avoids” appearing on political programmes.
Mr Holmes said Lineker asked him to “sort it out” when the row first erupted, and “initial contact with various BBC staff hadn’t produced a result”.
Gary Lineker is back in action this Saturday as Manchester City face Burnley in the FA Cup on the BBC, many will be delighted to see him back so soon.