Treatment Of Gary Lineker Like Something From 'Putin’s Russia', Says Labour

Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell says the BBC "capitulated to a Tory cancel campaign orchestrated by ministers".
Peter Byrne via PA Wire/PA Images

Labour has compared Gary Lineker being taken off air for criticising the government to something that would happen in “Putin’s Russia”.

Lineker was suspended from his job presenting Match Of The Day after tweeting that the language used by ministers around Rishi Sunak’s new asylum plan was similar to Germany in the 1930s.

The decision led to several pundits and commentators walking out in support of the former England striker, throwing the BBC's weekend sports coverage into chaos.

The former England star was reinstated on Monday and the BBC director-general Tim Davie apologised.

Speaking in the Commons on Tuesday, Labour’s shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell accused the government of a “deliberate strategy of undermining the BBC”.

Powell said the corporation had “capitulated to a Tory cancel campaign orchestrated by ministers” who wanted Lineker to lose his job for criticising the Conservatives.

She told culture minister Julia Lopez: “What does she think it looks like to the outside world that a much-loved sports presenter is taken off air for tweeting something the government doesn’t like?

“It sounds more like Putin’s Russia to me.”

Lopez said “at no time” had government ministers sought to pressure the BBC to remove Lineker.

“I also think it was distasteful to compare the government’s actions or otherwise to the Putin regime, I think it is a disgraceful comparison to make, and I think it is way off the mark,” she added.

In the wake of the row the BBC is conducting a review of its social media guidance for staff.


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