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Tweet controversy

Lineker thought he had ‘special agreement’ with BBC director-general over tweets, agent says

Jon Holmes, who represents the Match Of The Day Host, has offered an insight into the recent impartiality row.

GARY LINEKER BELIEVED he had a “special agreement” with the BBC director-general to tweet about refugees and immigration, his agent has said.

Jon Holmes, who represents the Match Of The Day host, said the impartiality row resulting from Lineker’s recent online action had “collapsed into a shambles” despite his efforts to have everyone “calm down”.

The row was sparked after Lineker was taken off air for a tweet comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy 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.

Writing in The New Statesman, Holmes offered an insight into the fallout in the days since the initial tweet.

“My phone started ringing excessively on the afternoon of Tuesday 7 March after Suella Braverman had made her statement on the government’s small boats policy in the Commons,” he wrote.

“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.

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.

Holmes said that after initial attempts by Lineker to mitigate the situation had failed, the presenter had told him to “sort it out”.

He said that last Sunday he held talks with Davie, and plans were made for a satisfactory solution involving the subsequent BBC apology and review of its impartiality guidelines.

Lineker is due to resume his duties as host of Match Of The Day on Saturday and will “abide by the editorial guidelines” until the BBC review is complete, 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.

Lineker also retweeted a video of former British prime minister Theresa May criticising the UK Government’s proposed Immigration Bill in the House of Commons, describing it as a “blanket dismissal” of those facing persecution.

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