BBC staff have rounded on the corporation after the furore created over Gary Lineker’s latest Brexit rants on Twitter to his millions of followers.
They have argued that the £1.75 million a year Match of the Day presenter is “untouchable” and that senior managers look away from his comments.
The BBC have said Lineker can express his personal political views because he is not involved in news or current affairs output, and pointed to editorial guidelines that say staff in “politically sensitive areas” should be be seen to support a particular position.
According to The Telegraph: other presenters who work outside the news and current affairs department said they had been reprimanded for expressing political views.
“There is one rule for Gary and one rule for others,” one said. Staff were said to be astonished when Lineker was allowed to appear on stage at a rally last month calling for a second referendum.
“Never mind the small print on the editorial guidelines – they state that whatever we say or write can have an influence. Gary is extremely influential, with seven million Twitter followers. He’s running a political campaign and it’s not right,” said one presenter.
Another said: “The rest of us couldn’t possibly go and tweet about Brexit without being hauled over the coals. But there’s this feeling that it’s Gary, and therefore he can do it.”
Earlier this year, members of the BBC Women group were prevented from discussing equal pay on air because they had publicly expressed solidarity with Carrie Gracie, the former China editor who was found to be paid less than male colleagues.
They included Jane Garvey, presenter of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, who tweeted yesterday: “As I understand it, Gary does sport so he can talk politics. I talk about women and I can’t talk about politics but I can talk about #women and even #EqualPay as long as I don’t talk on the BBC about #EqualPay (or the lack of it) at the BBC. Couldn’t be clearer.”
BBC insiders said that Lineker’s status as a freelancer meant the corporation has little control over what he says on his personal Twitter account.
Lineker was first criticised by Cricket Commentator Jonathan Agnew how said that he should keep his opinions to himself. Lineker hit back at Agnew by saying that he only did so because of his political views to which Agnew responded that he did in fact vote remain.
In light of the BBC stating that Lineker was allowed to express his views he smugly replied: “Oh dear, looks like I don’t need to stick to football. My deepest apologies in advance.”