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Gary Lineker post about Grant Shapps appears to breach BBC guidelines, says chairman candidate Samir Shah | UK News

today13/12/2023

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Gary Lineker’s social media post about Defence Secretary Grant Shapps appears to breach BBC guidelines, the government’s candidate to be the corporation’s next chairman has said.

Speaking to MPs at a pre-appointment hearing, Samir Shah said the corporation “needs to find a solution” to arguments over impartiality as he called the ongoing row between Lineker and the BBC a “psychodrama”.

Mr Shah also said he did not think it was “helpful” that the presenter had signed a letter calling for the end of the government’s Rwanda scheme.

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.”

Asked what he would do if he was chairman of the BBC, Samir Shah said: “I think it’s our duty to monitor and see how well guidelines are delivering their purpose.”

He added he would invite the director-general to “interrogate quite forcibly” if the social media guidelines were delivering what they intend to do.

“I do think we need to find a solution to this because 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,” he added.

“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.”

The former England footballer recently hit back at Grant Shapps after he questioned whether the Match Of The Day host should express political views.

Lineker was 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”.

After Mr Shapps said Lineker should stick to football and stop “meddling” in other matters, Lineker posted a photograph of Mr Shapps with his name under it alongside three more images of the politician with the names Michael Green, Corinne Stockheath and Sebastian Fox used instead.

Lineker wrote: “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?”

A previous Twitter scandal involving Lineker led to the BBC strengthening social media guidelines for staff on issues of impartiality and civility.

Mr Shah also said political broadcaster Andrew Neil suggested he apply for the role, adding that they were old friends.

He also said he had not discussed his application with anyone in government but people had told him he was “mad” to apply, largely because of the controversies surrounding his predecessor, Richard Sharp.

Mr Sharp resigned after failing to declare his connection to an £800,000 loan made to Boris Johnson.

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