New BBC Chair Says Gary Lineker Tweets Mocking Tory MPs 'Broke Social Media Guidelines'

The Match of the Day suggested Lee Anderson and Jonathan Gullis will lose their seats at the next election.
War of words: Lee Anderson, Gary Lineker and Jonathan Gullis
War of words: Lee Anderson, Gary Lineker and Jonathan Gullis

Gary Lineker broke the BBC’s social media guidelines by poking fun at Tory MPs on X (formerly Twitter), the corporation’s incoming chair has said.

Samir Shah said that “on the face of it” the Match of the Day host had broken the rules by criticising Grant Shapps, Lee Anderson and Jonathan Gullis.

They had criticised Lineker for signing a letter attacking the government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, saying “we need a new system that reflects the will of the British people”.

Appearing in front of a Commons committee this morning, Shah said the BBC’s guidelines made clear that employees should “not to make ad hominem attacks” on politicians.

He said: “As far as I’m aware, the signing of the letter did not breach those guidelines. I do think, however, the more recent tweet which identified two politicians does on the face of it seem to breach those particular guidelines.

“I’m not sure how egregious it is, but it does and I imagine the BBC is now looking into that and considering its response.”

He added: “The BBC’s reputation matters and this isn’t helpful so we do need to find a solution to it and, were I to be chair, I’d be keen to try to bring about such a solution.”

The row erupted on Monday when Anderson wrote on X/Twitter: “For once in his life, Gary’s absolutely right - we do need a system that reflects the will of the British people.

“What the people want is to stop the boats and to tell overpaid crisp salesmen to put a sock in it.

“Alongside cracking down on illegal migration, we need another robust system which keeps Lineker as far away from the public as possible, to give us all a rest from his left wing out of touch nonsense.”

In response, Lineker had a jab at the party’s ailing poll rating ahead of a general election expected in the next year.

“I guess we’ll find out what the will of the British people is at the next general election. If you do end up out of work, I’ll put in a word for you with Walkers Crisps,” wrote Lineker, who used to star in adverts for the snack manufacturer.

Lineker then went after Gullis, who had accused him of “yet another breach of the BBC’s impartiality rules”.

This time, Lineker had a more personal pop, saying: “Jonathan hasn’t read the new guidelines….or, should I say, had someone read them to him?”

Then came Grant Shapps, the defence secretary, who criticised the broadcaster for “meddling” in politics.

This time he mocked “4 chaps Shapps” for an old controversy around Shapps’s series of aliases.

It’s not the first time Lineker has become involved with political controversy.

The ex-footballer came in for fierce criticism earlier this year when he said the government’s language over immigration was reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

That led to his temporary removal from Match of the Day by BBC bosses.


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