Reaction to Lineker being pulled from presenting by the BBC
LONDON (Reuters) - Following are reactions to the decision by the BBC to take "Match of the Day" presenter and former England soccer captain Gary Lineker off the air, after he strongly criticised the British government's policy on migrants this week.
BRITISH PRIME MINISTER RISHI SUNAK
"I hope that the current situation between Gary Lineker and the BBC can be resolved in a timely manner, but it is rightly a matter for them, not the government."
FIRST MINISTER OF SCOTLAND NICOLA STURGEON
"As a strong supporter of public service broadcasting, I want to be able to defend the BBC. But the decision to take Gary Lineker off air is indefensible. It is undermining free speech in the face of political pressure - & it does always seem to be right-wing pressure it caves to."
TV HOST PIERS MORGAN,
"It’s now a sackable offence in Britain to express an opinion. What a pathetic state of affairs."
MOTD PUNDIT AND FORMER ARSENAL PLAYER IAN WRIGHT
"Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity."
MOTD PUNDIT AND FORMER NEWCASTLE UNITED PLAYER ALAN SHEARER
"I have informed the BBC that I won’t be appearing on MOTD tomorrow night."
LABOUR PARTY LEADER KEIR STARMER
"The BBC is not acting impartially by caving in to Tory MPs who are complaining about Gary Lineker."
LABOUR PARTY'S HOME AFFAIRS SPOKESPERSON YVETTE COOPER
"The focus on this is being used by the government, both to find someone to blame and also to distract from their own serious failures."
FORMER LABOUR LEADER JEREMY CORBYN
"Well done Gary Lineker for standing up for refugees. Well done Ian Wright for showing the meaning of solidarity."
HEAD OF BECTU UNION PHILIPPA CHILDS
"This is a deeply concerning decision from the BBC. It will give the appearance that they have bowed to political pressure from ministers to take someone off air for disagreeing with the policies of the current government."
FORMER CULTURE SECRETARY NADINE DORRIES
"News that Gary Lineker has been stood down for investigation is welcome and shows BBC are serious about impartiality."
"Gary is entitled to his views - free speech is paramount. Lots of non Public Service Broadcasters can accommodate him and his views and he would be better paid."
MOTD PUNDIT AND FORMER MANCHESTER CITY PLAYER MICAH RICHARDS
"I was not due to be working on MOTD tomorrow, but if I was, I would find myself taking the same decision that Ian Wright and Alan Shearer have."
MOTD PUNDIT AND EX-TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR PLAYER JERMAINE JENAS
"I wasn't down to be doing Match of the Day tomorrow, but if I was I would have said no and stood with my fellow pundits and Gary Lineker."
NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS GENERAL SECRETARY MICHELLE STANISTREET
"This is a massive own goal on the part of the BBC. Yielding to sustained political pressure in this way is as foolish as it is dangerous."
GREG DYKE, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF BBC 2000-2004
"I do think the BBC has made a mistake here and over 20 years since I left the BBC, I have never publicly criticised the leadership of the BBC because I know it's a difficult job."
"The perception out there is going to be that Gary Lineker, a much-loved television presenter, was taken off air after government pressure on a particular issue."
(Compiled by Tommy Lund in Gdansk and Sarah Young in London; Editing by Ken Ferris and Frances Kerry)