Gary Lineker believed he had 'special agreement' over refugee and immigration tweets, says agent

16 March 2023, 08:13

Gary Lineker believed he had 'special agreement' over refugee and immigration tweets
Gary Lineker believed he had 'special agreement' over refugee and immigration tweets. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Gary Lineker believed he had a "special agreement" to tweet about refugees and immigration, his agent has said.

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Jon Holmes, who represents the Match Of The Day (MOTD) host, said the impartiality row resulting from Lineker's Twitter comments had "collapsed into a shambles" despite his efforts to have everyone "calm down".

Lineker was taken off air last week for a tweet comparing the language used to launch the government's controversial migrant plan to that of 1930s Germany.

He was subsequently asked to "step back" from the popular football highlights show, prompting a boycott by his fellow MOTD pundits and commentators.

Read more: 'Outrageous': Gary Lineker in fresh Tory row as he hits out at accusations he called northern voters 'racist and Nazis'

Read more: Gary Lineker’s son receives death threat of being ‘burned at the stake’ in wake of presenter’s Twitter furore

Stand up to snowflake MPs after Gary Lineker row, Starmer tells Sunak

Offering an insight into the fallout in the days following the initial tweet, Mr Holmes said the former footballer was "passionate" about the topic and had the green light to "tweet about these issues".

"My phone started ringing excessively on the afternoon of Tuesday March 7 after Suella Braverman had made her statement on the government's small boats policy in the Commons," Mr Holmes wrote in The New Statesman.

"Gary Lineker, with whom I've worked since 1980, had tweeted about the policy, reiterating his support for refugees.

"Gary takes a passionate interest in refugees and immigration and, as he saw it, had a special agreement with Tim Davie, the BBC's director-general, to tweet about these issues."

Mr Holmes described the BBC guidelines on social media use for staff and freelancers as "a bit vague" but said that both he and Lineker believed in the "impartiality and independence" of the broadcaster.

He highlighted that his client was not a political pundit and "assiduously avoids" taking part in on-air political programmes.

Gary Lineker reinstated as BBC presenter as corporation apologises

Lineker is due to return as host of Match Of The Day on Saturday and will "abide by the editorial guidelines" until the broadcaster review is complete, Mr Davie has said.

Since the row, Lineker has changed his Twitter profile picture to a photo of himself next to a George Orwell quote, which is written on the wall outside of the BBC.

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear," the quote reads.

The 62-year-old also retweeted a video of former prime minister Theresa May criticising the Government's proposed Immigration Bill in the House of Commons, describing it as a "blanket dismissal" of those facing persecution.

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