The former England footballer – the taxpayer-funded corporation’s highest paid presenter on £1.7million a year – uses Twitter to spread near daily anti-Brexit and pro-immigration messages. Many fellow broadcasters feel the 58-year-old’s political preaching breaches BBC guidelines. But the broadcaster confirmed he was above the law because he is a sports presenter.
Lineker’s calls for a so-called People’s Vote to settle Brexit have irritated millions, not least because he uses his high-profile to spread his messages.
The twice-divorced father-of-four, who has amassed a £30million personal fortune thanks to his squeaky clean image, finds the furore over his rants hilarious.
But Tory MP David Davies said: “He has been given a platform to express his pro-EU, anti-controlled immigration ideology to all and sundry, but is in position of enormous responsibility, and it’s about time he acted as such.”
Guidelines state that BBC staff and freelancers working for BBC News and Current Affairs must not state or reveal publicly how they vote or express support for any political party, express a view for or against any policy which is a matter of current party political debate on subjects such as Brexit.
But because Lineker works for BBC Sport, and is technically not an employee, he is able to circumvent rules.
And he has mocked those who have told him to rein in his dogma, including mild-mannered BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew who had told him: “Observe BBC guidelines.”
But Lineker replied: “Oh dear, looks like I don’t need to stick to football. My deepest apologies in advance.”
The Daily Express asked the State-funded broadcaster how many complaints it had received about Lineker’s political activity on Twitter over the past 18 months but it refused to disclose numbers.
The BBC said: “Gary is not involved in any news or political output for the BBC and as such any expression of his personal political views does not affect the BBC’s impartiality.”
Lineker’s agent Jon Holmes put the phone down on a Daily Express reporter who tried to ask him his client’s political activism, but he later called the issue a “very tired and old tale” in an email.