Mansfield broadcasting star has his say on Gary Lineker controversy

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Mansfield-born broadcaster Richard Bacon has had his say on the suspension of Match of the Day host Gary Lineker – questioning whether it would have happened if Lineker supported Government policy.

Bacon – whose Twitter biography reads “Views expressed here are the BBC's. Not my own.” – has shared a number of posts questioning the BBC’s position.

Freelance broadcaster Lineker was removed from the show amid controversy over comments, Tweeted in a personal capacity, where he compared language around the Conservative government’s new Illegal Migration Bill to “Germany in the 1930s”.

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The Bill would involve a duty placed on the Home Secretary to remove “as soon as reasonably practicable”, to Rwanda or a “safe third country”, anyone who arrives on a small boat. Those who arrive will also be prevented from ever claiming asylum in the UK.

Lineker’s comments caused a wave of anger among Conservative MPs.

Lee Anderson, Ashfield MP and deputy Party chairman, said: “Yet again, Lineker has been allowed to kick about vile and baseless accusations and the public are sick to the back teeth of it. Its time to tackle this woke crisp salesman and hold him to account for the nonsense he spews. The BBC need to get a grip and finally show these people the red card.”

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Critics, however, say the Conservatives are using it to stoke a “culture war” and distract from the Bill itself, which many opponents argue is illegal – Mrs Braverman reportedly told Conservative MPs parts of her plan to stop might be “incompatible” with the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Richard Bacon is a former host of the BBC's flagship children's magazine programme, Blue Peter.Richard Bacon is a former host of the BBC's flagship children's magazine programme, Blue Peter.
Richard Bacon is a former host of the BBC's flagship children's magazine programme, Blue Peter.

Writer and producer Armando Ianucci Tweeted: “Has the BBC actually analysed Lineker’s tweet? Because it is factually accurate. A lot of the tropes used now by Government: ‘invasion’, ‘menace’ etc, are pretty similar to those used by nationalist parties in 1930s Germany. Why no analysis?”

Bacon said presenter Alexis Conran’s view that “none of this would be happening if Lineker had expressed support for ‘Stop The Boats’, which would have also broken impartiality rules”, was “absolutely true”.

And responding to a Tweet comparing Lineker’s suspension for “upsetting the Conservatives because he stood up for some of the most vulnerable people in the world” with BBC chairman Richard Sharp, “who gave the Conservatives £400,000 before helping to arrange an £800,000 loan for Boris Johnson”, Bacon said: “Incredibly hard to answer this. I’ll give £10 and a packet of chewing gum, to anyone who can come up with a coherent answer.”

He also shared Tweets highlighting political posts by Lord Alan Sugar, presenter of The Apprentice, one of the BBC’s biggest TV shows, but who has faced no action over his social media comments.

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Bacon, a former presenter of BBC shows Blue Peter, Something for the Weekend and The Big Painting Challenge, also retweeted a number of other Tweets questioning the reasoning behind Lineker’s suspension.