The BBC could face a new impartiality row just days after confirming that football pundit Gary Lineker would re-host MOTD on Saturday, as a One Show reporter appeared to call for a Conservative MP to be deported while speaking on politics of immigration.
Lucy Siegle, who is also a writer on environmental issues, tweeted critically on Tuesday about Scott Benton’s claim that the UK is “full” to capacity.
Blackpool South MP Mr Benton punched the presenter and asked: “Did you miss the memo on fairness?”
An embarrassing weekend for the BBC follows a widespread strike among sports presenters following Lineker’s temporary removal from presenting MOTD, prompting a fight to reschedule television hours.
Lineker had tweeted critically about the government’s plans to tackle small boat crossings, which would see both refugees and migrants banned for life from entering the UK if caught.
Lucy Siegle questioned how Scott Benton MP had calculated that the UK is “full” in apparent criticism of the government’s immigration policy.
On Tuesday, Ms Siegle tweeted: “Apparently a Conservative MP named Scott Benton calculated the carrying capacity of the British Isles and declared the UK to be full.
‘If we’re operating one at a time, can we trade it for someone else?’
She added: ‘I love seeing how it works. It’s very complicated (and some would say impossible) to understand when a given landmass is full, but Scott has obviously done the math.
Mr Benton responded to her tweets, writing: “I’m quite happy in the country I was born in and have lived in all my life, thank you Lucy.”
‘Sounds like you’re the one who has a problem with British values like free speech.
‘Ps – As a BBC presenter, did you miss the impartiality memo?’
On Wednesday morning, Ms Siegle wrote: “Today I accept a sad truth: I will never be British enough for Scott.” He is literally outperforming me in the UK. I just can’t compete.
The One Show presenter has been outspoken about her views, even criticizing the BBC’s own code of impartiality.
Also on Tuesday, he shared a clip from The News Agents news podcast that discussed the Lineker dispute.
Conservative MP for Blackpool South Scott Benton responded, asking Ms Siegle if she had “missed the memo” on the BBC’s impartiality.
Follow the reinstatement of Gary Lineker to MOTD this Saturday after a massive boycott of soccer programming last weekend.
She said: ‘This episode… is like taking a big breath of fresh air. A well-reasoned look at the subversion of fairness, used as a pretext for a populist agenda. Bravo!’
A BBC spokesperson said: “We have announced an independent review of our social media guidance to ensure it is clear, proportionate and appropriate.”
‘This will have a particular focus on how the guidance applies to freelancers, including those outside of news and current affairs.
“Until this work is complete, the existing BBC social media guidance will remain in effect.”
The comments come as it was confirmed this week that Gary Lineker will return to hosting MOTD this weekend, after last week’s episode was replaced by a 20-minute “Premier League Highlights” show with no pundits or commentary.
Lineker has been asked by the BBC to withdraw from the show while discussing his use of social media, after he compared the language used by the government to describe people crossing the Channel, including refugees, with that used in Germany. Nazi of the 1930s.
After it was announced that the show would be lost, a wave of football presenters refused to work in solidarity, which meant that MOTD, Football Focus and much of the content on Radio 5Live had to be cancelled.
The BBC was widely criticized for its handling of the dispute, with some accusing the corporation of threatening free speech.
Backbench Conservative MPs criticized the corporation yesterday for ‘caving in’ to Lineker by allowing him to return to MOTD.
Managing Director Tim Davie and Head of Content Charlotte Moore traveled to Salford yesterday to “reflect on the events of the last few days” with the sports staff.
A source there said people were “furious” about what happened, amid claims that Mr Davie had “just introduced himself” to staff when he spoke to them.
It is just the latest scandal to hit the BBC after it was previously revealed that Chairman Richard Sharp allegedly helped then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson secure a loan while going through the appointments process, which is run by the government.