Top BBC stars given new social media rules after Gary Lineker migrant tweets caused Match of the Day walkout

28 September 2023, 12:33 | Updated: 28 September 2023, 13:05

The new guidelines ensure presenters stick to the BBC's impartiality rules.
The new guidelines ensure presenters stick to the BBC's impartiality rules. Picture: Alamy
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

The BBC's top stars have been allowed to share their own controversial views on social media, but must stop short of political campaigning, under the corporations new rules.

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Presenters such as Gary Lineker, Lord Alan Sugar, and Fiona Bruce have "a particular responsibility to respect the BBC's impartiality", says the broadcaster.

Stars must be mindful of their tweets two weeks either side of any given broadcast, under new rules being imposed following a review led by former ITN boss John Hardie.

As well as Mr Lineker, Lord Sugar and Ms Bruce, other stars who will be subjected to the rules include: Dragon's Den's Evan Davis, The One Show's Alex Jones, MasterChef hosts John Torode and Gregg Wallace, Match Of The Day's Mark Chapman, and Strictly Come Dancing hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman.

The stars are now banned from endorsing or attacking a political party and individual politicians.

Presenters are also prohibited from commenting on political debates during an election period or taking up official roles with campaigning groups.

Gary Lineker has agreed with the new rules.
Gary Lineker has agreed with the new rules. Picture: Alamy

These rules come after a row over Gary Lineker’s social media posts regarding the migrant crisis policy, which resulted in him being briefly suspended from hosting Match of the Day.

Other hosts of the show walked out in solidarity.

Read more: 'Not now, not ever': Gary Lineker wades into BBC chairman row saying candidates shouldn’t be chosen by government

His suspension came after he posted on Twitter, now X, comparing the language used to talk about the migrant crisis to 1930’s Germany.

He initially tweeted, "Good heavens, this is beyond awful", responding to a video of Suella Braverman talking about the migrant policy.

Mr. Lineker then replied to his tweet: "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?"

Members of the Conservative Party criticised the football commentator’s comments, with Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer and Ms. Braverman, who accused him of "diminishing the unspeakable tragedy" of the Holocaust.

Labour condemned the "cowardly decision" to suspend Mr. Lineker.

Shelagh Fogarty discusses BBC impartiality after Gary Lineker row

When Mr Lineker was suspended, a string of Match of the Day presenters, including Alex Scott, Jermaine Jenas, and Alan Shearer voiced their support on X/Twitter and refused to appear on the programme the day after.

Read more: Review into impartiality guidance launches after Gary Lineker social media fury

In response to these new rules, Mr Lineker responded on X/Twitter by saying they were "all very sensible."