UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

BBC Side-Steps Complaint about Lineker extolling Hamas terrorist

The BBC has side-stepped a complaint by UKLFI Chief Executive, Jonathan Turner, about Gary Lineker failing to correct misleading information in a Tweet extolling a terrorist. This contrasts with the BBC’s recent action in forcing Lineker to step aside from his role as a TV sports pundit for his Tweet referencing 1930s Germany. Mr Turner’s complaint has now been escalated to the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit.

Mr Lineker re-Tweeted a post on 22 December 2022 which extolled Ahmed Daraghmeh, who was killed in the course of violently attacking Jews visiting a Jewish holy place in Nablus. In fact, the visit was coordinated between Israeli and Palestinian authorities in accordance with the Oslo II Accord. The Tweet accused the Israeli forces of taking his life “treacherously” when they were defending a legitimate visit of a Jewish group to pray at a holy place against armed attack by him and other Hamas terrorists. The Tweet in issue is here.

Hamas confirmed that Ahmed Daraghmeh was one of its fighters.

Mr Lineker did not apologise for or correct the misleading information in his Tweet, even though it was drawn to his attention by a number of replies and other Tweets.

Mr Turner pointed out in his complaint to the BBC that this was in breach of sub-paragraph 3e of the BBC’s Guidance on individual use of social media , which states “If you know you’ve got something wrong, do correct it quickly and openly.”

The Guidance states that this sub-paragraph applies to “all colleagues”, and not just those working in news, current affairs, factual journalism and senior leaders.

The BBC initially responded to the complaint on 10 January 2023 saying: “Gary was not intending to make a political point. We have shared your feedback with him so that he understands your concerns.”

On 27 January 2023 Mr Turner responded, pointing out that the BBC had failed to address the key point in his original complaint.

Mr Turner wrote:Your response does not address the key point, that Mr Lineker did not correct the Tweet after he became aware that it was misleading as required by para 3e of the BBC Guidance on Individual Use of Social Media which states: “If you know you’ve got something wrong, do correct it quickly and openly.”

Mr Turner noted that Mr Lineker had still not corrected the Tweet. Moreover, Mr Lineker had made several previous Tweets criticising Israeli policies, for example HERE, which cast doubt on the suggestion that he did not intend to make a political point.  Mr Turner commented: “Even if he [Mr Lineker] did not intend to make a political point, this does not justify failing to correct his Tweet, which concerned a sensitive political issue, once he became aware that it was misleading.”

The BBC responded on 1st March 2023 by saying “We don’t have anything further to add to our original reply.”

Mr Turner escalated the complaint to the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit on 8 March 2023, pointing out that BBC Complaints had still not addressed in any way the failure to comply with sub-paragraph 3(e) of the BBC’s Guidance on Individual Use of Social Media.