Gary Lineker has said he still believes his tweet about the Government’s “cruel” asylum policy was “factually accurate”.

The Match Of The Day presenter told Alastair Campbell, during an interview for Men’s Health UK magazine, that he stood by his comments.

The BBC has launched an independent review of its social media guidance for freelancers following a row prompted by Lineker’s tweets last month.

Lineker was taken off air by the broadcaster after posting a tweet in which he said the language used by the Government to promote its asylum plans was not dissimilar to 1930s Germany.

He later returned to his Match Of The Day presenting role following a major boycott by top on-air talent.

As part of a Men’s Health UK’s Talking Heads interview, Lineker said: “When I sent that tweet, it honestly never even crossed my mind that it would lead to where it went.

“I’ve worked with refugees’ charities for years.

“So, when I saw the Suella Braverman film, I said I thought it was pretty awful.

“Then the ‘stick to football’ people weighed in and I replied to one of them, just saying there was no massive influx, the UK takes far fewer refugees than other European countries, this is a cruel policy, and the language used in the debate reminds us of the debate in Germany in the 1930s.

“I think that is factually accurate.”


Lineker said that when new social media guidance was introduced by director-general Tim Davie in October 2020, he agreed that he would not stop “occasionally” tweeting about two issues – climate change and refugees.

He added: “I wasn’t prepared to back down on that, especially as I felt and still feel that what I tweeted was fair and true.

“I wasn’t abusive, I wasn’t saying she (Braverman) was a Nazi.

“I talked about the use of words like ‘invasion’ and ‘swarms’ and ‘criminals’ and ‘rapists’, which I think we should be very careful about because it has real-life consequences.”

Lineker said after he had been taken off air by the BBC he found it “hard to see" how the issue got resolved "unless they backed down”.

He added: “I think the key moment was when the other presenters and then the commentators made it clear they wouldn’t go on if I was taken off air."

Addressing the broadcaster’s director-general, he said: “To be fair to Tim Davie, he admitted they had got it wrong and sorted it out.

“I love the BBC and I was very glad to be back on air and talking about football again.”