BBC’s apology over Gary Lineker row – statement in full
The BBC has apologised for the chaos caused by the organisation’s decision to stand down Gary Lineker amid a row over his social media activity last week.
Football coverage across the national broadcaster’s various platforms was significantly disrupted over the weekend as a number of pundits and presenters walked out in solidarity.
Match of the Day lasted only 20 minutes on Saturday evening with regular presenter Lineker absent, with no punditry, commentary or analysis to accompany basic highlights of the day’s Premier League action.
The row escalated amid reports that the BBC were trying to clamp down on Lineker’s comments on news and current affairs.
It followed a tweet in which the former England striker described the British government’s language in relation to a new asylum policy as “redolent” of language used in 1930s Germany.
The organisation has now apologised for what it described as a “difficult period” for staff, confirming that it would be launching an independent review of the BBC’s social media policy.
Here is the statement from Tim Davie, director general of the BBC, in full:
“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.”