Gary Lineker: I'm not a proper BBC employee and I use my platform for good

The Match of the Day presenter said he will continue to use his platform for what he believes in.

Watch: Gary Lineker talks impartiality on GMB

Gary Lineker has said he does not feel under pressure to remain neutral on political issues as he is not a "proper employee" of the BBC.

The Match Of The Day host - the highest paid on-air talent at the broadcast corporation - was taken off air by the BBC temporarily in March after he made controversial remarks while publicly criticising the government on social media.

Lineker, 62, was asked by Richard Madeley on Good Morning Britain how he responded to critics who said he should not show political bias while working for the publicly funded broadcaster.

Read more: Gary Lineker says bigger salary could 'entice the great minds' into politics

The former footballer said: "Well, I'm not in news and current affairs. I think if you're staff or a proper employee it's out of place, where as obviously I'm freelance. I'm here to promote a show Sitting On A Fortune which is an ITV show. I'm on all sorts of platforms.

Gary Lineker hosts Match of The Day
Gary Lineker says he is not a 'proper employee' of the BBC. (BBC)

"I think we're okay. I think this was taken out of proportion. It was a silly story which was blown up because I was misrepresented. But it got resolved in the end and we'll carry on for the time being."

He added: "I think it's really important if you've got a big platform to try and use it for the good, and that's what I've always done and continue to do."

Lineker - who is paid an annual salary of £1.3m by the BBC - became embroiled in a row after his reference to Nazi Germany in his criticism of the Home Office's crackdown on Channel crossings.

He is now due to be presented with a 'sport and human rights' award from Amnesty International at a ceremony in Italy.

Watch: Gary Lineker stands by his controversial tweet about the government's immigration policy

Asked his motivation for sharing his opinions on Twitter he said: "My motivation is I quite enjoy it. I like writing, I think it's a lot of fun, it's engaging, obviously there are a few downsides occasionally. I've managed to get a huge platform which I try to use for what I think is good. I like tweeting. It's quite fun."

Speaking about his controversial tweet that saw him taken off air he said: "Already you've misrepresented what I said. I didn't compare the government to the Nazis, I didn't talk about the Holocaust. All I said was some of the language is not dissimilar to that used back in the 30s in Germany.

"But that's water under the bridge now. All is well with the world. It was kind of bonkers for a while, but in the end common sense prevailed."

Euros 2020 Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker is the highest paid on-air talent at the BBC. (BBC)

He added: "I was talking about some of the language that is not dissimilar, we use the word 'swarm', we use the word 'invasion', for all these people fleeing war, fleeing persecution. All I was saying is we could use kinder language, nothing less than that."

Referencing home secretary Suella Braverman's plan to keep migrant boats from entering the UK, Lineker tweeted: “Good heavens, this is beyond awful."

He added: "There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?"

Gary Lineker (centre) arrives at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester to present live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley on the BBC, following a row which was sparked after he was taken off air for a tweet comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy to that of 1930s Germany. Picture date: Saturday March 18, 2023. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Gary Lineker was taken off air by the BBC for his controversial tweet. (Getty Images)

BBC Director-General Tim Davie confirmed the corporation had reached an agreement with Lineker and he returned to screens, without having to apologise for his comments.

Read more: Should Gary Lineker lose his job at the BBC? Have your say

Lineker tweeted in response: "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..."

Lineker has hosted Match of the Day since 1999 and also fronts various sports coverage for the BBC.