Gary Lineker ‘didn’t choose to step back’ says Dan Walker
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A group of 36 Conservative MPs and peers have signed a letter to BBC Director General Tim Davie, demanding a full and independent investigation into Gary Lineker’s controversial comments about the Government’s new Illegal Migration Bill and likening it to Nazi Germany. The letter, seen by the Daily Express, also demands the corporation boss secures a full apology “without reservation” from Mr Lineker.
The demand from Tory MPs comes just hours after the BBC said they’d asked Gary Lineker to step back from his presenting duties, however the group believes the BBC hasn’t gone far enough.
Tory grandee Sir John Hayes has spearheaded the letter of demands, saying the numerous cases of Gary Lineker breaking the BBC’s impartiality rules will “no doubt shake many people’s – already fragile – confidence in both the impartiality and professional standards of the BBC.”
While the 36 parliamentarians welcome Lineker’s removal from Match of the Day as “good news”, they are calling for a full apology from Gary Lineker “at the very least”.
“We request that, at the very least, Mr Lineker apologises without reservation, and we ask for a full, independent investigation into Mr Lineker’s comments and his future role at the corporation.”
Other MP signatories of the letter include Conservative party deputy chairmen Matt Vickers and Lee Anderson; ex-ministers Brendan Clarke-Smith and Jonathan Gullis; Tory grandees Sir Desmond Swayne, Sir Edward Leigh and Bob Blackman; and vice-chairman of the Tory Common Sense Group Tom Hunt.
The BBC-knocking letter is also signed by former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Lamont.
The letter has been spearheaded by the Common Sense Group of Tory MPs, a caucus of backbenchers focused on fighting against woke left-wing politics.
Tim Davie has been told by the Tory parliamentarians that Mr Lineker comparing a policy which aims to clamp down on illegal immigration to Nazi Germany “will be deeply upsetting to millions of people”.
“It is one thing to disagree with a particular policy, but quite another to make such a comparison.”
The letter notes that Mr Lineker is the corporation’s highest-paid presenter, earning £1.35 million in the last financial year.
The band of MPs argue with the millions he has been paid by hard-working licence fee payers, he has built a platform for himself as a football pundit.
However it said: “For him to use his privileged position to spout deeply offensive extreme dogma is certainly out of keeping with BBC impartiality guidelines, and presumably the terms of his contract with the BBC.”
Despite claims that Gary Lineker’s comments were a clear breach of BBC impartiality rules, yesterday it was reported that bosses at the corporation had spoken to the Match of the Day presenter and had decided it would take no further action.
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The BBC performed a volte-face earlier, deciding that Gary Lineker will step back from presenting MOTD “until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media”.
It 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.”
Shortly after the news of his suspension, Gary Lineker texted Dan Walker while the presenter was live on Channel 5, who read out Mr Lineker’s texts clarifying that it was the BBC who “told him to step back”.
In a blow to the Tory MPs demanding an apology, Gary Lineker told Mr Walker he isn’t going to say sorry.
Following Mr Lineker’s suspension from the BBC, his fellow MOTD presenters Mark Chapman, Alex Scott, Ian Wright, Alan Shearer and Micah Richards have all said they will refuse to appear on the programme. It will go ahead tomorrow without presenters as the programme will not have pundits nor presentation and will “focus on match action.”
Conservative MPs already mocked Mr Lineker’s suspension, with Tory Deputy Chairman Lee Anderson joking that it is a “sad day” and hopes he has time to “reflect”.
Referencing the boycott of MOTD by Gary Lineker’s fellow presenters, Tory MP Ben Everitt told the Daily Express, “Out of solidarity for Gary and Ian, I am not going to present Match of the Day tomorrow either”.
Mr Davie, the recipient of today’s furious letter from Tory MPs, told the Commons Culture committee in 2020 that his new focus on BBC impartiality could include taking stars like Gary Lineker off Twitter for infractions.
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