Jeremy Hunt shares views on Gary Lineker tweet fallout
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Gary Lineker was quieter than his usual outspoken self today when he declined to answer questions about the ongoing controversy over his anti-Government tweets which has engulfed the BBC in a massive row. The Beeb’s highest paid star broke cover for the first time since Match of the Day went ahead without him, and also without any presenters or commentators.
It isn’t a row that looks to be going away any time soon with MOTD2 said to be “much reduced” this evening as pundits and presenters refuse to appear, due to the way the corporation is treating Lineker.
When he was spotted outside his home in Barnes, south-west London, this morning he told journalists “I can’t say anything”.
On his way to walk his dog he was asked “Do you still want to work for the BBC?”, “Have you spoken to Tim Davie overnight?”, “Have you had discussions with BT or Sky?” and “Iis this the end of your presenting career?”, but did not give any answers.
Presenters that were asked to front sport shows fear being called a “scab” amidst the ongoing controversy and so are refusing to appear on TV, insiders have claimed today.
There is said to be a mutinous mood within the corporation as staff are furious that the TV presenter was taken off air by higher-ups after he criticised the Government’s plans to crackdown on illegal immigration.
It started off yesterday with Ian Wright and others refusing to appear on Match of the Day and reports suggest it is threatening to spill over into other departments.
BBC staff and freelancers, including high-profile presenters like Mark Chapman, are said to have refused to stand in for the Match of the Day pundit.
Some within the Beeb are said to have slammed what they are calling “disgraceful cowardice from leadership”.
Match of the Day is usually the BBC’s flagship football show but without any presenters nor commentary it was stripped down to just 20 minutes last night.
The disruption is expected to continue today and will cause issues with the way the BBC covers the Women’s Super League this afternoon, and MOTD 2 later tonight.
Mail Online reports that the BBC could have to “pay millions” if they sack Lineker as they would be expected to lose if he sued them.
And last night his eldest son said that the former England striker will never apologise and will never back down.
To show his support he also tweeted a picture of him and his 62-year-old dad.
The row started when Lineker, who has often tweeted outspoken views on his Twitter account, called the Government’s anti-illegal immigration bill “beyond awful”.
He went on to say that the language used was “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”.
His linking of the UK Government with that of Nazi Germany led to him being taken off air.
Insiders say the search to try and find someone to fill in for the BBC’s highest paid star on yesterday’s MOTD was hampered by the level of support for him, as the usual stand-ins declined to do so.
Some were reportedly scared that they would be seen as a “scab” for doing so, with either them or their agents turning down the position on their behalf.
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