New BBC chair Samir Shah says Gary Lineker’s tweet about Grant Shapps appears to breach broadcaster’s social media guidelines
Gary Lineker’s social media post about Defence Secretary Grant Shapps appears to breach BBC guidelines, the potential future chairman of the corporation has claimed.
Samir Shah also told MPs at a pre-appointment hearing he did not think it was ‘helpful’ that Lineker had signed a letter calling for the Government to scrap its Rwanda scheme.
Whilst he admitted the signing of the letter had not broken any of the BBC’s rules, Mr Shah believed the former footballer had breached guidelines at the ‘third opportunity’ with the post about the Tory minister.
Mr Shah said the BBC ‘needs to find a solution’ to arguments over impartiality as he called the ongoing row between Lineker and the corporation a ‘psychodrama’.
He said: ‘I don’t think it was very helpful either for Gary Lineker or the BBC or the cause he supports because it becomes a story about Gary Linker and the BBC.
‘As far as I’m aware, the signing of the letter did not breach those guidelines.
‘But the more recent tweet in which he identifies a politician does, on the face of it, seem to breach those guidelines. ‘I’m not sure how egregious it is but I imagine the BBC is looking into it and considering its response.’
A recent tweet by Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker appeared to breach BBC impartiality guidelines, the corporation’s furture chairman has said. Pictured: Gary Lineker arriving at the funeral of Sir Bobby Charlton in Manchester last month
Samir Shah told MPs he did not think it was ‘helpful’ that Lineker signed a letter calling for the Government to scrap the Rwanda Scheme. Pictured: Ms Shah arriving at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday
Gary Lineker ‘s social media post about Defence Secretary Grant Shapps appears to breach BBC guidelines, Mr Shah says
On October 11, the former England striker posted on X, formally known as Twitter, a collage photo of four different images of Mr Shapps, all captioned with a different name
Mr Shah added: ‘The initial two posts were considered, as far as I’m aware, that they did not breach but the last ones, that identified specifically two politicians, seems to me on the face of it to breach the guidelines.’
On October 11, the former England striker posted on X, formally known as Twitter, a collage photo of four different images of Mr Shapps, all captioned with a different name.
READ MORE: Gary Lineker ignites yet another impartiality row as he signs an open letter criticising the Rwanda scheme
Lineker was hitting back after the Defence Secretary questioned whether the Match Of The Day host should express political views, claiming the 63-year-old ‘should stick to football and stop meddling in other matters’.
The presenter wrote alongside the photo: ‘A tad rich coming from someone who can’t even stick to one name. 4 chaps Shapps’.
Mr Shapps was previously accused of breaching the code of conduct for ministers and MPs by continuing to work as a marketer of get-rich-quick schemes under the pseudonym Michael Green after entering Parliament.
He has also been accused of using the pseudonyms Sebastian Fox and Corinne Stockheath.
Lineker has also hit out at Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis, who accused Lineker of breaching the BBC’s impartiality rules.
He wrote on social media: ‘Jonathan hasn’t read the new guidelines… or, should I say, had someone read them to him?’
On hearing Mr Shah’s announcement today, Mr Gullis posted on social media: ‘I appreciate the incoming Chairman’s views. I will await to see if any action will be taken by Tim Davie.’
A previous Twitter scandal involving the ex-striker led to the BBC strengthening social media guidelines for staff on issues of impartiality and civility.
Lineker was also among a group of celebrities to sign a letter calling for the government to scrap its Rwanda scheme and for political leaders to come up with a ‘fair new plan for refugees’.
Whilst he admitted the signing of the letter had not broken any of the BBC’s rules, Mr Shah believed the former footballer had breached guidelines at the ‘third opportunity’ with the post about the Tory minister
Mr Shah was speaking to MPs this morning
Mr Shah said he was chairman of the BBC, he would invite the director-general to ‘interrogate quite forcibly’ if the social media guidelines were delivering what they intend to do
Grant Shapps questioned whether the Match Of The Day host should express political views, claiming the 63-year-old ‘should stick to football and stop meddling in other matters’.
Lineker has also hit out at Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis, who accused Lineker of breaching the BBC’s impartiality rules
Asked by Damian Green MP if he thought Lineker was giving the BBC ‘two fingers’ with his political posts, Mr Shah added: ‘Were I to be chair, first of all I would be thinking if we have the balance right between freedom of expression and the duty to be impartial.
‘It’s very clear when it comes to news and current affairs and when it’s not, but there is this grey area in which Mr Lineker sits and I share your frustration and I would invite the director-general and his team to find a solution.’
A BBC spokesperson said: ‘We aren’t going to comment on individuals or indeed individual tweets.
‘While the guidance does allow people to talk about issues that matter to them, it is also clear that individuals should be civil and not call into question anyone’s character. We discuss issues that arise with presenters as necessary.’
Mr Shah said he was chairman of the BBC, he would invite the director-general Tim Davie to ‘interrogate quite forcibly’ if the social media guidelines were delivering what they intend to do.
He also said it was the Cooperation’s ‘duty to monitor’ the guidelines.
Mr Shah said: ‘I think it’s our duty to monitor and see how well guidelines are delivering their purpose.
‘I do think we need to find a solution to this becuase it doesn’t help anyone and it does damage the reputation of the BBC if we are constantly in this round, not just with this particular presenter or not.
‘The BBC’s reputation matters and this isn’t helpful and we do need to find a solution to it and if I were to be chair I would be keen to bring about a solution.’
Mr Shah says applied for the role of BBC chairman after being encouraged to by political broadcaster and long-time friend Andrew Neil.
Shah’s predecessor, Richard Sharp, resigned from the role after failing to declare his connection to an £800,000 loan made to Boris Johnson.
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