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Former BBC exec warns Gary Linker is ‘playing with fire’

Gary Lineker 'is playing with fire' says Tim Luckhurst

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Gary Lineker is in hot water after the Match of the Day presenter appeared to ridicule a BBC ruling on impartiality. Earlier this week, the BBC confirmed that comments made by the news presenter Martine Croxall breached its rules on impartiality when she appeared to delight in Boris Johnson’s decision to back out of the Conservative leadership race. The Match of the Day host replied to the ruling by simply tweeting a rolling eyes emoji, indicating he didn’t agree with the decision.

Professor Tim Luckhurst, a former BBC executive, told Mike Graham on TalkTV that Mr Lineker was on “very thin ice” after the remarks.

Mr Graham said that Lineker “seems to be poking BBC boss Tim Davies in the eye every chance he gets, just saying what are you going to do about this?”

Professor Luckhurst hit out at the BBC broadcaster: “I think Gary Lineker is playing with fire here.

“I admired him as a footballer, and admire him as a broadcaster.

“But the BBC has taken the view that the rules on impartiality can be applied more generously to him because he is not a news presenter.”

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He continued: “That is a risky strategy from the BBC. Gary is a very high-profile BBC employee.

“He is regarded as a leader of opinion. As such, he shouldn’t be taking ideological stances.

“There will be people among his followers who worry about impartiality, who don’t agree that Martine Croxall’s glee about Boris Johnson not standing in the race was a good thing.

“Gary Lineker should worry about impartiality too. It is crucial to his own success.”

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Ms Croxall returned to presenting duties on BBC News on Friday after 12 days off-air.

On Thursday, the BBC ruled that she had shown bias when Boris Johnson pulled out of the Conservative leadership contest.

In her remarks, broadcast live on the BBC, Ms Croxall described herself as “gleeful” while reporting the former Prime Minister wasn’t going to be standing again for the job.

The BBC said that Ms Croxall’s “remarks and reactions caused a significant risk the audience could believe opinions were being expressed on the Conservative leadership contest”.

Earlier in the programme, Mr Graham said that Mr Lineker should be sacked for breaching impartiality.

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The TalkTV host said: “He himself has been found to be not to be standing up to the high standards that the BBC expects.

“He has already been chastised and hauled over the coals for that.

“Is he trying to get himself fired? That would be great, that would save us about a million plus pounds a year.

“I’d be all for that. He could go work in the private sector if he likes, that’s not a problem.

“If he wants to share his views which he is not allowed to do as a BBC presenter, then he can do so.”

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