BBC’s suspension of Gary Lineker is like something from ‘Putin’s Russia’, Labour MP says

G7K5E1 Lucy Powell MP, shadow secretary of state for education and children, speaking on the theme of 'Education and Children'.

A LABOUR MP sparked outrage today after comparing Gary Lineker’s former BBC suspension to “Putin’s Russia”.

In a Commons debate Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell hit out at her government counterpart Lucy Frazer over the sports star’s tweet scandal.

Lucy Powell sparked outrage today after comparing the Gary Lineker tweet scandal to Putin’s Russia

Ms Powell said: “What does she think it looks like to the outside world that a much-loved sports presenter is taken off air for tweeting something the Government doesn’t like?

“It sounds more like Putin’s Russia to me.”

Ms Frazer responded that the government has “consistently made clear” it’s for the BBC to resolve its dispute with Mr Lineker and refused to give an opinion of the case.

The former England star will once again front the BBC’s FA Cup coverage this Saturday after striking a deal with the broadcaster on Monday.

The agreement followed a weekend of TV mayhem caused by Mr Lineker’s tweet likening the Government’s language on small boats to 1930s Germany.

The BBC will now review its social media guidelines as Director General Tim Davie apologised for the “difficult period” for staff, presenters and audiences.

Mr Lineker said: “After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this.

“I want to thank you all for the incredible support, particularly my colleagues at BBC Sport, for the remarkable show of solidarity. Football is a team game but their backing was overwhelming.”

Today Tory MPs accused the BBC of capitulating to Mr Lineker.

MP Tom Hunt told the Commons: “It’s important that freelancers who are paid vast sums by the taxpayer and widely perceived to be BBC presenters are not able to hide behind freelancer status to avoid paying taxes and also to disregard impartiality guidelines.

“It’s important until that review is completed that somebody such as Gary Lineker continues to follow the existing guidelines, which means refraining from politics.

MP Caroline Johnson added: : “The BBC needs to ensure they have strict rules in place on impartiality, that they apply them evenly – whether it’s someone who is an employee or someone who is a contractor – if they’re working for the BBC, they should have to follow the same rules.”

Former minister John Hayes raged: “Mindful that (Ms Lopez) doesn’t want to comment on self-indulgent, out of touch, insensitive, avaricious, smug and arrogant football pundits, and in mind too of the important role the BBC has as a national institution made special by both its charter and the mode of its funding, will she affirm that impartiality is critical to its continuing role?”

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