Press "Enter" to skip to content

‘Assault on free speech’: Gary Lineker’s defenders and detractors

‘Assault on free speech’: Gary Lineker’s defenders and detractors

Ian Wright and Piers Morgan support BBC presenter’s right to express views while Suella Braverman and Lee Anderson are critical

A single tweet sent by Gary Lineker on Tuesday afternoon has sparked a nationwide debate about impartiality at the BBC and how its guidelines should be enforced.

Figures from across the worlds of media, sport, and politics have come out to defend Lineker or to call for him to be censured.


Ian Wright After it was announced on Friday that Lineker would not be hosting Saturday’s Match of the Day (MOTD), co-host Wright said he wouldn’t be appearing either. “Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity,” he wrote on Twitter.

Alan Shearer Shortly afterwards, Shearer wrote: “I have informed the BBC that I won’t be appearing on MOTD tomorrow night.”

Alex Scott The former England defender is another Match of the Day contributor and also presents the BBC’s Football Focus. She tweeted on Saturday that “it doesn’t feel right for me to go ahead with [Football Focus] today”, adding: “Hopefully I will be back in the chair next week.”

Jeremy Clarkson Replying to Wright’s announcement, the broadcaster, who has frequently attracted controversy with comments on politics, some of them made while hosting Top Gear on the BBC, said: “Good on you mate.”

Piers Morgan The broadcaster is a friend of Lineker’s and wrote in a column for the Sun that it was “ridiculous” to suggest he couldn’t express opinions while employed by BBC Sport. “No offence to Gary, who cares what an ex-footballer says about news or politics on his Twitter feed?” he said.

Greg Dyke The former BBC director general said Lineker’s suspension was a “mistake” and that the corporation had “undermined its own credibility”. “The perception out there is that the BBC has bowed to government pressure. And once the BBC does that you’re in real problems,” he said.

Emily Maitlis The former Newsnight presenter referenced a monologue delivered by Lineker at the start of the BBC’s coverage of the Qatar World Cup in which he highlighted lack of rights for migrant workers, women, and gay people in the country. “Curious that [Lineker] was free to raise questions about Qatar’s human rights record – with the blessing of the BBC – over the World Cup, but cannot raise questions of human rights in this country if it involves criticism of government policy,” she wrote.

Angela Rayner Labour’s deputy leader said Lineker’s suspension was “an assault on free speech”. “The BBC’s cowardly decision to take Gary Lineker off air is an assault on free speech in the face of political pressure from Tory politicians. They should rethink,” she wrote on Twitter.


Numerous politicians and commentators have criticised Lineker and called on the BBC to take action.

Suella Braveman The home secretary, whose husband is Jewish, said Lineker’s comment had been “offensive” and “lazy”. “My children are … directly descendant from people who were murdered in gas chambers,” she said. “To kind of throw out those kind of flippant analogies diminishes the unspeakable tragedy that millions of people went through and I don’t think anything that is happening in the UK today can come close to what happened in the Holocaust.”

Lee Anderson The Conservative party vice-chair called Lineker’s invocation of Nazi-era Germany “disgusting and vile”. “The BBC should disossociate themselves from these types of comments and ask themselves the question ‘is this the type of comment they expect from their publicly funded presenters?’,” he said.

Craig MacKinlay The Tory MP for the Kent seat of South Thanet told the Telegraph Lineker’s remarks were a “step too far” and that the BBC should sack Lineker.

“[To liken] our proposed robust yet fair new asylum policy which will save lives in the Channel, with the darkest period of human history founded on pure evil, is in itself foul, ill-conceived and disgraceful,” he said.

Nadine Dorries Speaking on her show on TalkTV, the former culture secretary said the BBC had a responsibility to discipline Lineker to show there was a “line in the sand” that BBC employees should not cross. “The people who are paying Gary Lineker’s salary are licence fee payers and they do not all agree with Gary Lineker,” she said.

Mike Graham Another TalkTV host, Graham called Lineker’s tweet “disgusting” and said he should apologise to people of Jewish heritage who had found it offensive. “I don’t care whether you’re sacked. It’s not my business. But … you cannot any longer hide behind the idea that you’re simply a football commentator,” he said.

This post was originally published on this site

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.