The BBC has admitted it has impartiality “arrangements” with some of its stars after defending Lord Alan Sugar in the dispute over Gary Lineker’s comments on the government’s illegal migration bill.
David Jordan, the BBC’s Director of Editorial Policy, explained that there is an “agreement” with Lord Sugar, whose latest series of The Apprentice is being shown by the corporation.
It comes amid allegations of hypocrisy from Lineker’s supporters after Lord Sugar’s tweets in December last year criticizing RMT leader Mick Lynch.
He accused the union leader of ‘bringing the country to its knees’ and enjoying the publicity fueled by widespread industrial action.
But Jordan defended Lord Sugar’s tweets, saying BBC stars are not expected to curb political views if they are not in the corporation’s spotlight. The Telegraph reports.
Lord Sugar posted a series of tweets in December last year criticizing RMT frontman Mick Lynch.
Gary Lineker caused riot chaos at the BBC last week when he was asked to stop presenting Match of the Day
He said: ‘Alan Sugar has been very, very subdued recently, you would have noticed because he’s hosting The Apprentice, Jordan said when appearing on The Media Show.
“He voluntarily limits himself on social media when he is heavily identified with the BBC presenting The Apprentice and just before that or just after that,” he continued.
“The rest of the time you are free to say, as a business person, what you want to say.”
And when asked if Lord Sugar’s announcement that he would back the Conservative Party in the 2019 general election caused any trouble within the BBC, Jordan added that the comments came after a change in policy.
He continued: “It would have been a problem if it had come up during the run of The Apprentice.”
His comments have highlighted how some presenters and freelancers are exempt from the BBC’s political impartiality rules and instead have individual understandings with senior bosses.
As The Apprentice is only shown for a short period of the year, it is understood that Lord Sugar has greater freedom to express political criticism.
In a series of tweets last year, Lord Sugar wrote: ‘Mick Lynch loves cameras. Today they sewed it on GMB. The next thing he’ll do is Strictly or he’ll appear in Graham Norton. Does anyone know how much they pay?
He added: ‘Hello Mick Lynch, are you happy with yourself bringing the country and ordinary people to their knees at Christmas?
‘You don’t fool me by waiting for the bosses to come to the table. You love advertising. Your members would like to earn what you get. Why don’t you give up your salary?
Since Lineker hosts Match of the Day most Saturdays of the year, he may not have had the same deal.
However, the former English footballer’s agent revealed yesterday that he believed he had a ‘special arrangement’ with BBC director-general Tim Davie to tweet about immigrants and immigration.
Lineker will return to television screens to present live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley on Saturday
Jon Holmes, who has worked with Lineker for more than 40 years, pictured himself arriving at the King Power Stadium to watch Leicester and Chelsea on Saturday.
Jon Holmes, who has worked with Lineker for more than 40 years, said Lineker had a “passionate interest” in the issue and believed he had permission to tweet about it.
He also revealed how he was called to Broadcasting House, the BBC’s central London headquarters, on Friday as part of efforts to resolve the situation.
Holmes, also a former Leicester City chairman, told the New Statesman: “Gary has a passionate interest in refugees and, as he saw it, he had a special arrangement with Tim Davie, the BBC’s CEO, to tweet about these issues. “.
He added: “But when they asked me how the matter could be resolved, I told them that taking Gary off the air would not be helpful and that we needed to clarify the guidelines.”
The agent said he was reluctant to say ‘I told you so’ after the BBC’s soccer coverage came under fire from other presenters and pundits who walked out in solidarity with Lineker.
Holmes continued: ‘In my opinion, the BBC did not have to put themselves in that position and publish their statement.
‘It is better not to feed the beast. You starve it, that’s how you get quick resolution to problems like these.
Lineker will return to television screens to present live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley on Saturday.
Davie said he had taken “proportionate action” over the controversial tweet and insisted he had not backed down in line, but has been accused of “capitulating” to the former footballer.