Former BBC World Service boss says corporation was right to take Gary Lineker off air over his anti-Tory tweets
Jamie Angus, who left last year, said it was very difficult for journalists at the BBC to see one of the broadcaster’s highest paid stars ‘driving a coach and horses’ through the impartiality standards they have to stick to.
Mr Angus said he ‘unfashionably’ took the view that director-general Tim Davie was ‘right to ask Gary Lineker to come off air’.
He added that he was not convinced the corporation’s relationship with Lineker was going to ‘survive’ in the long-term.
Speaking to Roger Bolton’s Beeb Watch podcast, the former BBC executive said the fact that the editorial guidelines were ‘now going to have to be redrawn again’ was ‘damaging for the BBC’.
The former director of the BBC World Service has said the corporation was right to take Gary Lineker off air over his anti-Tory tweets, saying the star had broken guidelines
He said: ‘And I, perhaps unfashionably take the view that Tim was right to ask Gary Lineker to come off air.
‘Tim when he came in as director general, set a series of guidelines for people who aren’t news employees, but are part of the public face of the BBC.’
Mr Angus went on: ‘And it seemed to me, as a now an outside observer, that what Gary Lineker tweeted about the political discussion around refugees in the UK broke those guidelines.
‘And I further think that a lot of BBC staff, particularly in BBC news, but across the BBC, probably felt the same.’
He said journalists are asked to ‘give up a huge amount of their own personal freedom’ in the name of impartiality, such as not attending marches or restrictions on social media posts.
Jamie Angus said he ‘unfashionably’ took the view that director-general Tim Davie was ‘right to ask Gary Lineker to come off air’
The ex-BBC boss said: ‘And it is very difficult for them to see one of the BBC’s highest paid stars, but more importantly, someone who is most closely associated with the BBC in the public mind, driving a coach and horses through those standards.’
He added: ‘If you look at some of the things he’s tweeted even since this row – they seem pretty close to the line, if not over the line to me and I’m not quite sure how this is going to get resolved in the longer term.’
Mr Angus said: ‘And it may be that if Gary – he’s perfectly entitled to do, feels that in the longer term his freedom to tweet what he likes, about what he likes, whenever he likes, is the most important thing to him, that may just not be compatible with continuing to work for the BBC.
‘And I still think that’s a possible outcome of the review and the sort of uneasy truce, if you like, that’s been declared hopefully for the rest of the football season.’