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October 14, 2022

Impartiality | BBC raps Lineker over tweet

The BBC's executive complaints unit has ruled Gary Lineker broke impartiality rules with a tweet relating to Russia in February.

14/10/22: The BBC’s executive complaints unit (ECU) has ruled that Match of the Day’s Gary Lineker, the BBC’s highest-paid presenter, broke impartiality rules with a tweet relating to Russia in February.

The tweet, which is still live, questioned whether the Conservative Party should give back money from Russian donors in response to Liz Truss suggesting Premier League teams should boycott the Champions League final in Russia.

The ECU said that although Lineker is not a journalist, he has an additional responsibility for impartiality under the BBC’s guidance which states high standards apply to those “who nevertheless have an additional responsibility to the BBC because of their profile on the BBC”.

The guidance states: “We expect these individuals to avoid taking sides on party political issues or political controversies and to take care when addressing public policy matters.”

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Lineker argued that the tweet was prompted by an article about football, his area of expertise, rather than politics and BBC Sport management suggested that by framing the tweet as a question it may have limited the extent to which readers saw it as a political opinion from him.

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But the ruling said: “Whatever the mitigating effect of these factors, however, the ECU judged that they could not entirely erase the impression that one of its purposes was to highlight a perceived inconsistency in the Conservative Party’s approach, at a time when relations between the UK and Russia were the subject of significant public debate.

“For this reason, we found the tweet was in breach of the relevant guidance and did not meet the BBC’s editorial standards on impartiality.”

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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