English football presenter and pundit Gary Lineker will be returning to the BBC’s landmark Match of the Day programme, after a weekend-long dispute with the news organization. Lineker was asked to step back from his role on Friday after he tweeted on his private social media account criticism of the Conservative government’s new and potentially illegal immigration policy, comparing it to language used in 1930s Germany. The row has raised wider questions around the BBC’s impartiality, with critics saying it now leans towards appeasing the Conservative government.
Lineker is a freelance broadcaster who works for the BBC. Since he is not a permanent member of staff and not responsible for news or political content, he is not bound by the same rules on what he can and cannot say off air. The BBC has since responded to the incident by bringing Lineker back to the show and announcing a review of its social media policies.
As our chart shows, YouGov carried out a number of polls on the topic in recent days. It found that 53 percent of UK adults agreed it was wrong to suspend Lineker over his tweets, versus only 27 percent who disagreed, and that 51 percent agreed that it was right that presenters pulled out of their programmes in solidarity with him. In a survey carried out on March 8, some 46 percent of respondents said that BBC sports correspondents should be allowed to publicly express their political views outside of BBC channels, versus 33 percent who thought they should not.