Gary Lineker’s history of political tweets during time as top-earning presenter

Gary Lineker has a history of posting politically charged tweets during his time as a BBC TV presenter, which has been revealed in the wake of the former footballer turned pundit being criticised for commenting on the government's immigration policy.

It also comes as the TV star announced he will “step back” from presenting Match Of The Day until he and the BBC have reached an “agreed and clear position” on his use of social media.

His tweets have attracted controversy in recent years while he has been the corporation’s top-earing presenter, earning £1.35m last year according to the BBC’s 2021-22 annual report.

Gary, 62, has said he does not have to follow strict impartiality guidelines because he freelances for the corporation.

The BBC’s decision was sparked by the presenter’s response on Twitter to a Home Office video in which Home Secretary Suella Braverman unveiled the Government’s plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel on small boats.

He said language she used was “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s.”

The ex-England striker wrote: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s.”

Gary is Match Of The Day’s longest-serving presenter and has been the face of the programme for more than 20 years.

He has tweeted widely about refugees and immigration policy where he has voiced support for a liberal approach to border controls, and he also expressed support for a second EU referendum.

During last year’s Qatar World Cup he led criticism of Foreign Secretary James Cleverly for suggesting LGBT fans be “respectful of the host nation”.

“Whatever you do, don’t do anything Gay. Is that the message?" he posted in response to the cabinet minister's comments.

The same month the BBC found he had breached its impartiality guidelines over comments he made in February 2022 asking then-Foreign Secretary Liz Truss if her party would “hand back donations from Russian donors”.

In August 2022, BBC journalist Neil Henderson questioned whether Gary had a contract which allowed him to breach BBC impartiality after he tweeted about sewage being pumped into the sea.

The presenter had posted online: “As a politician how could you ever, under any circumstances, bring yourself to vote for pumping sewage into our seas? Unfathomable!”

In October 2020 he said BBC director-general Tim Davie was “perfectly happy” with his conduct on social media after new impartiality guidelines were introduced.

And in 2018, the TV star was criticised by BBC cricket presenter Jonathan Agnew after posting a string of tweets criticising the Conservative Party.

Gary posted in one tweet: “Imagine how hopeless you’d have to be to still be behind the Tory party in the polls. The absolute state of our politics.”

Mr Agnew replied: “Gary. You are the face of BBC Sport. Please observe BBC editorial guidelines and keep your political views, whatever they are and whatever the subject, to yourself. I’d be sacked if I followed your example. Thanks.”

Gary responded: “I’m the face of my own Twitter account. I’ll continue to tweet what I like and if folk disagree with me then so be it.”

The football star's Match Of The Day career follows 16 years playing the game for England both locally and internationally. He is England's fourth-highest goal scorer ever.

Now, Gary is a podcast producer and TV presenter, contributing on the likes of The Rest Is Politics, The Rest Is History, presented by Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook, and Empire, with William Dalrymple and Anita Anand.

He has also presented Have I Got News For You.


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