Leaked email shows 'what BBC staff were told' about Gary Lineker return
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Gary Lineker will return to television screens as a BBC presenter this weekend after the broadcaster reversed its decision to suspend him.
Lineker was suspended last week after he took to Twitter to compare the language used in the government's controversial Illegal Immigration Bill to that used in 1930s Germany.
Lineker refused to apologise when he was told he had breached the BBC's rules on impartiality, and so he was suspended indefinitely.
BBC Sport then went into meltdown when a host of presenters, pundits and commentators pulled out of broadcasting commitments.
Match of the Day and Match of the Day 2 were broadcast in extremely stripped-back formats, lasting just 20 minutes and 15 minutes respectively. Football Focus and Final Score were pulled from the TV schedule entirely.
On Monday, Lineker announced that he would return to work after he reached an agreement with the BBC, starting with live coverage of Manchester City vs Burnley in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday. He will return to presenting Match of the Day.
The BBC announced that it will conduct a review of its social media guidance, but that while that takes place Lineker has agreed to abide by the current guidance.
An email sent to BBC staff by BBC director general Tim Davie was obtained by Sky News. In it, Davie is claimed to have said: "Thank you in particular to the teams in Sport who have dealt with some unprecedented challenges. Also, I want to pay tribute to our News teams for covering the story professionally and independently.
"My priority has been to get this matter resolved and our sport content back on air for our audiences. This morning I’m pleased to say that we’ve agreed a way forward with Gary and his team.
"You all know the importance I place on impartiality at the BBC. At the same time, we must champion the right to freedom of expression.
"That’s a difficult balancing act to get right where people are subject to different contracts and on-air positions, and with different social media profiles.
"Our social media guidance, introduced in 2020, is designed to help manage these sometimes difficult challenges. Overall, much of it has worked well.
"However, I recognise there are grey areas which has caused potential confusion. That’s why we’ve announced a review led by an independent expert - reporting to the BBC Executive - on our social media guidance, with a particular focus on how it applies to freelancers outside news and current affairs. We will announce who will conduct that review shortly.
"While this work is undertaken, the current social media guidance remains in place. Gary is in favour of such a review and I’m pleased that he will be back on air this coming weekend.
"Gary is a brilliant broadcaster and a valued part of the BBC. I also know how much the organisation means to him.
"We’ve had a difficult weekend. But it’s right that we listen and that we ask ourselves questions to ensure that we continue to fight for a BBC that delivers world-class, impartial output for all audiences.
"Overall, over the last two years, we have seen strong audience research showing that we are delivering fair and balanced output. We are one of the most trusted brands globally and in this polarised world we are needed more than ever."
Featured Image Credit: PA/Alamy
Topics: Gary Lineker, Match Of The Day, Alan Shearer, Ian Wright