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

28 April 2023, 13:47

Gary Lineker shared his views after Richard Sharp stepped down
Gary Lineker shared his views after Richard Sharp stepped down. Picture: Alamy/Social media

By Asher McShane

Gary Lineker has waded into the row over the appointment of BBC chair Richard Sharp weeks after he was suspended by the broadcaster for sharing his own political views.

Mr Sharp resigned today after a report found he breached the public appointments code when he failed to declare conflicts of interest.

The appointment panel who gave him the job was told he was the “only” candidate supported by ministers.

Match of the Day host Lineker was taken off air by the BBC in March after sparking a row over the government’s stance on migrants on Twitter.

Read more: BBC chairman Richard Sharp resigns after breaching code for public appointments

He tweeted today: “The BBC chairman should not be selected by the government of the day. Not now, not ever.”

Mr Sharp's decision to stand down came after Adam Heppinstall KC's review found the former Tory donor twice breached the code governing public appointments, risking the perception he was not independent from the then-prime minister.

The Prime Minister faced calls from Labour and the Liberal Democrats for changes to how the BBC chair is appointed as the long-awaited report renewed scrutiny on the current process.

Football presenter Lineker was taken off air last month for sharing political views online
Football presenter Lineker was taken off air last month for sharing political views online. Picture: Alamy

Mr Sharp announced on Friday morning that he will stand down at the end of June after reading the findings of the review into his appointment.

The report was ordered after it emerged he played a role in facilitating an £800,000 loan guarantee for then prime minister Boris Johnson before being recommended for the influential role overseeing the public broadcaster's independence.

In a statement, he said: "Mr Heppinstall's view is that while I did breach the governance code for public appointments, he states that a breach does not necessarily invalidate an appointment.

"Indeed, I have always maintained the breach was inadvertent and not material, which the facts he lays out substantiate. The Secretary of State has consulted with the BBC Board who support that view.

"Nevertheless, I have decided that it is right to prioritise the interests of the BBC.

"I feel that this matter may well be a distraction from the Corporation's good work were I to remain in post until the end of my term.

"I have therefore this morning resigned as BBC Chair to the Secretary of State, and to the Board."

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