Former British football player and BBC presenter Gary Lineker walks outside his home in London, Britain, March 12, 2023. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
By Sarah Young
LONDON (Reuters) -Britain’s BBC reinstated its highest-paid presenter Gary Lineker on Monday after a decision to take the sports host off air over his criticism of the government sparked a near mutiny at the public broadcaster.
The corporation was forced to axe much of its sports coverage over the weekend after presenters, pundits and commentators refused to work in a show of solidarity with Lineker, who criticised the government’s immigration policy.
The publicly-funded BBC had suspended Lineker for breaching its impartiality rules by comparing the rhetoric of Britain’s interior minister Suella Braverman to the language used in 1930s Germany.
It said on Monday it would hold a review over how presenters can use social media, including freelancers outside news and current affairs, such as Lineker, the former England soccer captain who presents the country’s flagship football highlights programme.
Lineker tweeted as the news was released, thanking everyone for their support.
“I have been presenting sport on the BBC for almost three decades and am immeasurably proud to work with the best and fairest broadcaster in the world,” he said, before going on to return to the topic of immigration.
“A final thought: however difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away. It’s heartwarming to have seen the empathy towards their plight from so many of you.”
BBC Director General Tim Davie said in a statement on Monday that Lineker was a valued part of the BBC. “I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend,” he said.