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8 times the BBC didn’t punish presenters for sharing political views

Gary Lineker failed to appear on ‘Match of the Day’ over the weekend after a tweet criticising the government

Nicole Vassell
Monday 13 March 2023 12:20 GMT
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BBC News presenter heckled by passerby on live TV shouting 'bring back Gary Lineker'

Gary Lineker has been a major topic of discussion for days, following his tweet in response to Suella Braverman’s immigration bill.

Last week, the government announced a new policy to halt small boat crossings. It will result in the deportation of asylum seekers who arrive via boat to Rwanda or another “safe third country” without hearing their asylum claim.

Reacting to the news, Lineker expressed his distaste for the decision and responded to someone who pushed back on his view on Twitter.

He 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, and I’m out of order?”

After questions were raised about whether the football pundit had broken BBC’s impartiality rules with his social media use, it was decided that he would not host Saturday’s edition (11 March) of Match of the Day.

On Monday (13 March), it was announced that Lineker would return for the forthcoming episode, after Saturday’s MOTD aired without commentary or analysis.

The choice to temporarily remove Lineker from his broadcasting duties has provoked some to look back on previous times when BBC-affiliated public figures expressed a personal view on politics, but did not receive punishment in the same way.

Here are some examples...

Lord Sugar

Known to most for his anchoring of The Apprentice since 2005, Lord Sugar often uses social media and other platforms to express his political views.

In 2019, Lord Sugar urged his followers to vote Conservative in the General Election and promised to leave the UK if Jeremy Corbyn, the then-leader of the Labour Party, became Prime Minister.

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More recently, the business mogul hit out at RMT union boss Mick Lynch over strike action during the Christmas period in 2022.

“Hello Mick Lynch, hope you are happy yourself bringing the country to its knees over Xmas?” Sugar tweeted.

Lord Sugar (Getty Images)

Karren Brady

Staying within the world of The Apprentice, Baroness Karren Brady is also someone who expresses her political views while being involved in a programme on the network.

Brady is one of Sugar’s key advisors on the business-focused entertainment programme, as well as a Conservative peer and a columnist for The Sun. In a recent column, she expressed support for the equalities minister Kemi Badenoch’s decision not to make menopause a protected characteristic.

Baroness Karren Brady (Getty Images)

Mary Berry

In 2016, Dame Mary Berry expressed uncertainty ahead of the UK’s decision to go ahead with a levy on tax on soft drinks.

When asked whether she supported the tax on Radio 4’s Today programme, the former Great British Bake-Off judge said she was “not sure”, adding: “I would like to think we just advise people to eat less.”

Richard Osman

In 2019, House of Games host and creator of Pointless Osman said that he believed the Tories wanted to sell off the NHS “bit by bit”.

The following year, House of Games viewers noted a musical choice that appeared to troll the then-home secretary Priti Patel.

A segment showed her picture while AC/DC’s track “Highway to Hell” played.

Richard Osman (Getty Images)

Martin Lewis

Money-saving expert Martin Lewis has spoken in favour of changing government policies, namely during the current cost of living crisis.

In August, Lewis – who hosts a programme on Radio 5 Live – warned of an “act of national mental health harm” if energy bills were allowed to continue to rise.

Martin Lewis (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

Michael Portillo

As well as being the host of several programmes about his train journeys, Michael Portillo is a former Tory cabinet minister who also shares political views in newspaper columns.

Nadiya Hussain

After winning The Great British Bake-Off in 2015, Nadiya Hussain became the host of several of her own cooking programmes including Nadiya’s Everyday Baking.

In 2018, Hussain referred to Theresa May as “a monster” on Twitter after the politician ordered an airstrike in Syria.

The tweet was soon deleted and the BBC defended her right to express her views as she is “not a BBC staff member and her personal social media accounts are not connected to her work as a BBC presenter”.

Vanessa Feltz

In 2021, while hosting her Radio 2 show, Vanessa Feltz criticised Boris Johnson for failing to ban conversion therapy while prime minister.

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