Gary Lineker‘s position as the BBC’s highest-paid employee seems to be safe after the host controversially compared one of the Tory Government’s policies to Nazi Germany. His remarks, however, have sparked a debate about free speech, and whether the Match of the Day host was right to air his views while working for the impartial broadcaster. Among those to throw their weight behind Mr Lineker were the likes of TV presenter and journalist Piers Morgan, as well as former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, who told that Mr Lineker was within his right to voice his opinion.

Mr Lineker, the ex-Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona striker, is well known for using social media to share his thoughts on the world, including taking aim at the political establishment.

This recently included the Home Office’s new policy to stop migrants crossing the English Channel from France on small boats, which was unveiled by Home Secretary Suella Braverman earlier this week.

He told his 8.7 million Twitter followers that there was “no huge influx” of refugees, saying the UK “takes far fewer… than other major European countries”.

The 62-year-old added: “This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in a language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s.”

His comments were met with fury from many within the Conservative Party, and inside Number 10, where Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made the channel crossing one of the main priorities of his early premiership.

But Mr Farron, who led the Liberal Democrats between 2015 and 2017, told that Mr Lineker was right to share his views, regardless of whether they went for or against the Government.

Mr Lineker is a freelance broadcaster for the BBC and not a permanent member of staff.

His responsibilities are not the same as other, full-time employees as he is not part of the outlet’s news or political content.

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Mr Farron said: “No one who really believes in free speech will be criticising Gary Lineker’s right to say what he has or calling for the BBC to discipline him.

“If he had said something supportive of the Government, I would think the same.

“Free speech is a vital British value. He is right to criticise politicians who use thoughtless, incendiary language – careless talk costs.”

This week, Ms Braverman spoke to the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast to express her frustration with Mr Lineker, claiming the former England striker had lessened the impact of the Holocaust, causing hurt for millions across the country.

Describing his remarks as “offensive”, particularly as her husband is Jewish, she said: “My children are therefore direct descendants of people who were murdered in gas chambers during the Holocaust.

“To kind of throw out those kind of flippant analogies diminishes the unspeakable tragedy that millions of people went through and I don’t think anything that is happening in the UK today can come close to what happened in the Holocaust.

“So I find it a lazy and unhelpful comparison to make.”

In recent days, Mr Lineker has suggested that any potential suspension of his post would be avoided and that he planned to continue in his role as host of Match of the Day on Saturday.

The BBC itself claimed the matter had been taken “seriously” and a “frank conversation” had been had between the presenter and broadcaster, something Mr Lineker confirmed had happened with the director-general Tim Davie.

In a tweet, Mr Lineker said: “Well, it’s been an interesting couple of days. Happy that this ridiculously out of proportion story seems to be abating and very much looking forward to presenting @BBCMOTD on Saturday.”

Mr Lineker is the BBC’s top-earning on-air talent, a position he has held for the past five years. Reports show that he was paid between £1,350,000 and £1,354,999 for Match of the Day and his hosting role on Sports Personality of the Year in the 2021/22 year.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said the BBC’s impartiality rules were vital to the credibility of the broadcaster if it was to “retain the trust of the public who pay the license fee”.

According to Sky News, Ms Frazer added: “As somebody whose grandmother escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s, I think it’s really disappointing and inappropriate to compare government policy on immigration to events in Germany in the 1930s.”

“The BBC is operationally independent and I’m pleased that the BBC will be speaking to Gary Lineker, to remind him of his responsibilities in relation to social media.”

*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.