Published: 2023-03-13 15:02
Last Updated: 2023-09-27 15:17
Britain's finance minister Sunday said "people's confidence" in the BBC needed to be restored as the broadcaster's boss vowed not to quit amid the chaos surrounding Gary Lineker's removal as Match of the Day host.
Lineker was forced to "step back" from his duties presenting the flagship Premier League highlights show after accusing the UK government of using Nazi-era rhetoric in announcing its policy to tackle illegal immigration.
The BBC said on Friday that Lineker, England's fourth highest goalscorer of all time, had breached guidelines on impartiality and the corporation would seek "an agreed and clear position on his use of social media" before an on-screen return.
Former BBC chief Greg Dyke warned on Saturday that "it looks like – the perception out there – that the BBC has bowed to government pressure," deepening an ongoing row over impartiality at the broadcaster.
Finance minister Jeremy Hunt told Sky News on Sunday that he "profoundly" disagreed with Lineker's remarks, but that the decision was one for the BBC and its director general Tim Davie.
"The reason that it is a great national institution that we all treasure so much, is because it is respected for impartiality," he said.
"We need to make sure that what comes out of this is that people's confidence in the impartiality of the BBC is restored."
Lineker's critics claim the public-funded broadcaster has allowed him to use the platform afforded him as the face of its much-loved football show to influence contentious political issues.
But his backers accuse the broadcaster of taking their cues from Conservative politicians, pointing out that current BBC chairman Richard Sharp facilitated a loan guarantee for former prime minister Boris Johnson while applying for the job.