BBC issues apology and puts Gary Lineker back on air

It’s being reported that former England Strike Lineker has also received a direct apology.

Gary Lineker

The BBC has apologised for the turmoil affecting the corporation over recent days, after Gary Lineker was taken off air over his tweets criticising the government’s migration policy.

Not only has the BBC apologised for the incident, it has also announced a review into its social media usage guidelines.

It’s being reported that former England Strike Lineker has also received a direct apology.

In a tweet, Lineker said: “After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this. I want to thank you all for the incredible support, particularly my colleagues at BBC Sport, for the remarkable show of solidarity. Football is a team game but their backing was overwhelming.

“A final thought: however difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away. It’s heartwarming to have seen the empathy towards their plight from so many of you,” he continued.

“We remain a country of predominantly tolerant, welcoming and generous people.”

Football coverage across the broadcaster’s various platforms was significantly disrupted over the weekend as a number of pundits and presenters walked out in solidarity with Lineker.

It came after the Match Of The Day presenter described the government’s illegal migration bill on Twitter, unveiled last week, as an “immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”.

The government unveiled its plan to crack down on the boat crossings. It places the Home Secretary under a legal duty to remove migrants who arrive in the country illegally. They will be swiftly sent to their home country if it is deemed safe, or to a safe third country such as Rwanda, where they will be “supported to rebuild their lives”, the Home Office said.

Under the new legislation, all those who arrive illegally will be declared inadmissible to stay. The proposed law also means that people who come to the UK illegally will be prevented from settling in the country and will face a permanent ban on returning.

The plans have been criticised by human rights groups and the UN. Lineker is among those who rightly called out the government’s proposals and language, yet Tory MPs and Downing Street condemned his remarks.

The BBC appears however to have backed down. The Director General of the BBC Tim Davie said in a statement: “Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this.

“The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised. I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.

“Impartiality is important to the BBC. It is also important to the public. The BBC has a commitment to impartiality in its Charter and a commitment to freedom of expression.

“That is a difficult balancing act to get right where people are subject to different contracts and on air positions, and with different audience and social media profiles.

“The BBC’s social media guidance is designed to help manage these sometimes difficult challenges and I am aware there is a need to ensure that the guidance is up to this task. It should be clear, proportionate, and appropriate.

“Accordingly, we are announcing a review led by an independent expert – reporting to the BBC – on its existing social media guidance, with a particular focus on how it applies to freelancers outside news and current affairs.

“The BBC and myself are aware that Gary is in favour of such a review.

“Shortly, the BBC will announce who will conduct that review. Whilst this work is undertaken, the BBC’s current social media guidance remains in place.

“Gary is a valued part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary, and I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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