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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Danielle Desouza

Who has lent their support to Gary Lineker amid BBC row?

Celebrities and cultural figures including a Nobel literature laureate and comedian have voiced their thoughts on the BBC’s impartiality row involving Gary Lineker.

The corporation on Friday said it had “decided” the former England star would take a break from presenting the highlights programme until an “agreed and clear position” on his use of social media had been reached.

The 62-year-old became embroiled in a row over impartiality after using Twitter to compare the language used to launch a new Government asylum policy with 1930s Germany.

Many have used the hashtags #StandWithGary, #IStandWithGaryLineker OR #IStandWithGary to voice their support for Lineker.

Carol Vorderman

Media personality Vorderman, who regularly tweets criticism of the Government, posted several messages using the hashtag #IStandWithGary.

In a post on Saturday, she visited BBC’s headquarters in London and quoted George Orwell, writing: “If Liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

Dawn French

Actress and comedian Dawn French retweeted a post from a Twitter user which read: “Shakespeare saying stand with Gary Lineker. As only he can”.

The post quoted a passage from Shakespeare’s play Sir Thomas More.

Above the retweeted post, French added: “This. #IStandWithGaryLineker.”

Piers Morgan

Despite saying he “did not agree” with Lineker’s tweet, Piers Morgan tweeted: “Gary didn’t say any of it on the BBC, and isn’t even a BBC employee… I didn’t agree with what he said, but so what? It’s HIS opinion.”

Ian Wright

Ian Wright has been one of the the most vocal supporters of Lineker, with whom he regularly appears on Match Of The Day.

On Friday night, pundit and former Arsenal striker Wright said he would not be appearing on the show on Saturday in “solidarity”.

“Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity,” he said.

On Friday’s episode of his podcast Wrighty’s House, he added: “I’ll tell you something. If they do – the BBC get rid of Gary Lineker – I’m out, I’m gone. I’m not staying there. On his own platform he should be able to say what he wants to say.”

Alan Shearer

Former Newcastle and England star Alan Shearer also pulled out of Saturday’s Match Of The Day.

The 52-year-old tweeted simply: “I have informed the BBC that I won’t be appearing on MOTD tomorrow night.”

Philip Pullman

Writer Philip Pullman lent his support to Lineker, Wright and Shearer.

He tweeted: “I hope the BBC finds this all very difficult. Meanwhile, my admiration for Gary Lineker, Ian Wright, and Alan Shearer is unbounded.”

Kazuo Ishiguro

Nobel Literature laureate and football fan Kazuo Ishiguro also backed Lineker.

“I think he’s become one of the really important cultural figures for the country. I think he stands for really good things. I’m fully behind him on this”, he wrote.

Emily Maitlis

Former BBC Newsnight host Emily Maitlis, who was  reprimanded by the BBC for retweeting a post from Piers Morgan criticising the Government’s response to the pandemic, said the corporation could face a “bigger battle” following its decision.

“I’m not sure when they suggested to Gary Lineker he step back from #MOTD the BBC realised it might be starting a much much bigger battle”, she wrote.

However, not everyone has backed Lineker, with some politicians criticising him for voicing his opinion.

Nigel Farage

GB News presenter and former leader of the UK Independence Party Nigel Farage has called on the ex-footballer to apologise.

He tweeted: “Gary Lineker has been spreading hate and should apologise.”

Nadine Dorries

The former culture secretary tweeted on Friday evening that Lineker “does need to decide… is he a footie presenter or a candidate for the Labour Party?”

She later added: “Difference between Gary and I is, I’m a retiring, vintage Con MP starting out as a non BBC presenter. He’s a vintage BBC presenter starting out as a Labour Party activist.

“Only, you can’t do that when you work for a public service broadcaster as your platform funded by the licence fee payer. But, you all knew that.”

Suella Braverman

The Home Secretary, whose husband is Jewish, has criticised Lineker for his comments.

“My children are … directly descendant from people who were murdered in gas chambers,” she said.

“To kind of throw out those kind of flippant analogies diminishes the unspeakable tragedy that millions of people went through and I don’t think anything that is happening in the UK today can come close to what happened in the Holocaust.”

Lee Anderson

The Conservative party vice-chairman previously referred to the inferences which could be made from Lineker’s tweet as “disgusting and vile”.

When news broke of the football pundit being removed from Match Of The Day, he tweeted: “Sad News. It won’t be the same without him”, with a shush emoji.

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