Sky Sports reporter Kaveh Solhekol has been praised on social media for making a valid point in the BBC’s ongoing impartiality crisis involving popular presenter Gary Lineker. The BBC forced Lineker to “step back” from presenting Match of the Day after the former England international criticised the government’s new Illegal Migration Bill. He also questioned the language Conservative politicians have used towards refugees.
BBC chiefs have accused Lineker of breaching their impartiality guidelines, but the organisation did not penalise Alan Sugar, Andrew Neil and Jeremy Clarkson for expressing political opinions in years gone by. The BBC’s chairman Richard Sharp is also a Tory donor.Solhekol has questioned why the likes of Sugar, Neil, Clarkson and Sharp allowed to ignore the rules on impartiality, but not Lineker. He has also pointed out that Robbie Gibb, a Brexiteer and former Tory director of communications, is on the BBC’s board. Solhekol asked, “A lot of people are looking at this and saying, how come Andrew Neil, one of the most high profile political journalists and interviewers on the BBC for many, many years… is allowed to be the chairman of a right-wing magazine, The Spectator?”
The reporter added, “How come the chairman of the BBC, Richard Sharp… is somebody who donated £400,000 to the Conservative Party, someone who has [allegedly] helped arrange an £800,000 loan for the former prime minister, Boris Johnson.”The BBC claim Lineker’s “recent social media activity” is a “breach of our guidelines”. They are refusing to reinstate the presenter until they have agreed a “clear position on his use of social media” – but that could very difficult as Lineker has doubled down on his stance. Most BBC presenters and pundits are refusing to work on Saturday in solidarity with Lineker. Saturday night’s Match of the Day will be broadcasted without a studio presentation due to the boycott, while Football Focus and Final Score were scrapped altogether. The BBC may struggle to find pundits if they do not reinstate Lineker. Ian Wright has already told bosses he will never appear on Match of the Day again if Lineker is not restored to his position. Several other pundits are likely to follow suit.