New BBC chairman CONFIRMS Lineker's tweets appear to break social media rules

Gary Lineker

Incoming BBC chairman Samir Shah has confirmed that Gary Lineker's tweets to Conservative MPs this week appear to break the broadcaster's new social media guidelines

Millie Cooke

By Millie Cooke

Published: 13/12/2023

- 10:33

Updated: 13/12/2023

- 12:00

Samir Shah addressed the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee this morning

Incoming BBC chairman Samir Shah has confirmed that Gary Lineker's tweets to Conservative MPs this week appear to break the broadcaster's new social media guidelines.

This came after Lineker signed a letter calling for the Government to scrap its Rwanda scheme.

The letter demanded political leaders come up with a "fair new plan for refugees".

Lineker joined 30 others in signing the letter, including actors Brian Cox, Juliet Stevenson and David Morrissey, as well as Kaiser Chiefs musician Simon Rix.

WATCH: Samir Shah is asked about 'the eternal BBC problem with Gary Lineker'

Tory MP Jonathan Gullis hit out at the BBC on X accusing Lineker of breaching the broadcaster's new impartiality guidelines, which state that presenters must not endorse or attack a political party or criticise the character or individual politicians in the UK.

But the presenter hit back saying: "Jonathan hasn’t read the new guidelines…or, should I say, had someone read them to him."

Asked by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee about "what appears to be the eternal BBC problem with Gary Lineker", Shah said: "I think the initial two posts were considered, as far as I'm aware, did not breach that.

"But I think this last one, the one that identified specifically to politicians, seems to me on the face of it, a breach of those guidelines and I imagine the BBC is looking into that."

When asked if he thinks Gary Lineker is "putting two fingers up" to any guidelines the BBC produces, Shah responded: "I do understand the point you're making.

"First of all, I think in terms of whether we've got the balance right with freedom of expression - the BBC is in favour of freedom of expression - but also we've got to be impartial.

"The BBC is very clear when it comes to news and current affairs. But there is this grey area, in which Mr Lineker sits, and I share your frustration.

"I would certainly invite the director general and his team to find a solution to this because really we do need to find a solution to this."

Yesterday, Gullis wrote a letter to the BBC's Director General Tim Davie complaining about Lineker's remarks and warning that he faces a "catastrophic loss of trust" if he fails to take action.

The MP said: "Because of this potential breach, I am hereby making a formal complaint and hope that, as you promised to me personally in the 1922 Committee on the 25th of October 2023, action will finally be taken.

"The BBC faces a catastrophic loss of trust amongst Members of Parliament and the public because it cannot act against highly paid starts who breach impartiality guidelines.

"If you are serious about delivering on assurances made to MPs, then the BBC should take robust action to ensure that it and its presenters uphold impartiality guidelines.

I hope this will be an opportunity for the BBC to deliver on assurances made to MPs and the public and not another case of empty promises.

"This is essential if the BBC continues to claim it is an impartial national broadcaster."

But responding to Gullis' criticism, a spokesperson for the broadcaster said: "Like all freelance presenters, Gary is free to contribute to projects for third parties, as long as these do not conflict with his BBC commitments; do not breach guidelines on conflicts of interest; nor bring the BBC into disrepute, and he does so regularly."

You may like