Gary Lineker's tweets slamming Tory MPs 'seem to breach BBC guidelines', new boss Samir Shah says | The Sun

THE BBC's incoming chairman has said that Gary Lineker's tweets slamming Tory MPs this week "seem to breach" the corporation's social media rules.

New boss Samir Shah said he did not think it was "helpful" that Lineker had signed a letter calling for the Government to scrap its Rwanda scheme.

Former England footballer turned pundit Lineker was among a group of celebrities urging ministers to scrap their Rwanda scheme and come up with a "fair new plan for refugees".

In the letter, co-ordinated by campaign coalition Together With Refugees, they branded Britain's refugee system "ever-more uncaring, chaotic and costly", and said asylum policies are not working.

But Tory MPs hit back with Cabinet Minister Grant Shapps saying that Lineker should stick to presenting football.

MP Jonathan Gullis also demanded Lineker face punishment for adding his name to the letter, despite the fact he had not broken BBC rules.

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The ex-England star was then accused of ridiculing Mr Shapps and Conservative backbenchers in tweets as he fired back.

Mr Shah said he did not think it was "helpful" that Lineker had signed the letter, but did not see that as a breach of the rules.

However, he said he did think Lineker's subsequent tweets were a breach.

The new boss believes Gary Lineker breached BBC guidelines at the "third opportunity".

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He said: "The initial two posts were considered, as far as I'm aware, that they did not breach, but the last ones, that identified specifically two politicians, seems to me on the face of it to breach the guidelines."

Speaking before MPs at a pre-appointment hearing, Mr Shah added: "I don't think it was very helpful either for Gary Lineker or the BBC or the cause he supports because it becomes a story about Gary Linker and the BBC."

"As far as I'm aware, the signing of the letter did not breach those guidelines.

"I'm not sure how egregious it is but I imagine the BBC is looking into it and considering its response."

In response to the Cabinet Minister, Lineker posted a photograph of Mr Shapps with his name under it alongside three more images of the politician with the names Michael Green, Corinne Stockheath and Sebastian Fox used instead.

He tweeted: "A tad rich coming from someone who can’t even stick to one name. 4 chaps Shapps."

Lineker also hit back at Mr Gullis, quote-tweeting his post by writing: "Jonathan hasn’t read the new guidelines….or, should I say, had someone read them to him?"

Asked what he would do if he was chairman of the BBC, Samir Shah said: "I think it's our duty to monitor and see how well guidelines are delivering their purpose."

Mr Shah added he would invite the director-general to "interrogate quite forcibly" if the social media guidelines were delivering what they intend to do.

He continued: "I do think we need to find a solution to this because it doesn't help anyone and it does damage the reputation of the BBC if we are constantly in this round, not just with this particular presenter or not.

"The BBC's reputation matters and this isn't helpful and we do need to find a solution to it and if I were to be chair I would be keen to bring about a solution."

The Beeb are now said to be discussing whether their updated social media guidelines, which came into play in September, are tight enough.

A BBC spokesman said yesterday: “We aren’t going to comment on individuals or indeed individual tweets.

"While the guidance does allow people to talk about issues that matter to them, it is also clear that individuals should be civil and not call into question anyone’s character.

"We discuss issues that arise with presenters as necessary.”

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Lineker previously sparked an impartiality row in March after saying the Government rhetoric on immigration was similar to that of 1930s' Germany.

But after a review, BBC bosses decided to allow its top stars to share their own views on social media and only ruled they should stop short of political campaigning.

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