Gary Lineker, like a Right-wing Trojan Horse, is destroying the BBC from within

Gary Lineker poses upon arrival at the GQ Men of the Year Awards
Gary Lineker poses upon arrival at the GQ Men of the Year Awards

Once again, Gary Lineker has the BBC’s knickers in a twist. Auntie’s most expensive presenter (raking in a whopping 1.3 million a year) just can’t seem to stick to the script. Lineker joined celebrities like Brian Cox, Helen Pankhurst and Big Zuu in signing an open letter calling Britain’s refugee system “ever-more uncaring, chaotic and costly”. The letter, published by campaign group Together With Refugees, accuses the Government of “still trying to banish people fleeing persecution to Rwanda” and calls for “a fair new plan”.

Criticising the Rwanda plan isn’t controversial – even the most stereotypical little Englander, conjured up in the fever dreams of the liberal middle classes, would agree that the policy is rubbish. Lineker hasn’t technically broken any rules either – or so says the BBC. The new guidelines, introduced the last time Lineker threw his tweets out of the pram, differentiate between what is put on social media, and what is signed in an open letter. But to those of us sat at home in fear of prosecution for not paying Mr Match of the Day’s wages, this all sounds a bit much.

The absurdity of Lineker’s special treatment is made all the more apparent when one considers other top talent. Poor Carol Vorderman must be cross, having been forced to step away from her BBC Radio Wales gig after the Beeb’s new social-media guidelines threatened to gag her. Lineker could take a lesson or two from Vorderman, who decided her political sentiments were too important to be silenced by a day job. In comparison, Lineker’s teasing of the BBC guidelines seems rather self-serving.

None of this bodes well for the future of the BBC, when rows over funding are coloured by an annoyance among viewers and listeners about its commitment to impartiality. Perhaps Lineker is really a Right-wing trojan horse, working from the inside to expose the lack of guts within the state broadcaster. Either way, the BBC’s survival hinges on its ability to report and portray without prejudice – including convincing its own staff to play along.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.