BBC U-turn on Gary Lineker political tweet could help him avoid £4.9m tax bill


BBC U-turn on Gary Lineker political tweet could help him avoid £4.9m tax bill

They may have gotten him suspended by the BBC, but Gary Lineker’s political tweets could help him avoid a £4.9m tax bill.

Gary Lineker dominated the headlines over the weekend after the BBC suspended the Match of the Day presenter.

The BBC said a tweet Lineker published last week, that likened language used in the government's controversial Illegal Immigration Bill to that used in 1930s Germany, breached its impartiality and social media regulations.

A string of BBC Sport pundits, presenters and commentators pulled out of their weekend commitments with the broadcaster, forcing the BBC to broadcast stripped-back versions of Match of the Day and Match of the Day 2 over the weekend.

On Monday the BBC reached an agreement with Lineker to get him back on screen, and announced that it will conduct a review of its social media guidelines.

Although Lineker's tweets have not ended up costing him his job, they could see him escape an enormous tax bill.

As per a 2021 article in The Guardian, there is a continuing dispute about whether Lineker should be classed as a freelance worker for the BBC and BT Sport.

The former footballer is embroiled in a long-running legal case over whether he owes substantial back taxes relating to his presenting work between the 2013-14 and 2017-18 tax years.

HMRC is pursuing Lineker for £3,621,736 in income tax and £1,313,755 in national insurance contributions for that period.

However, Yvonne Gallagher, a partner at lawyers Harbottle & Lewis, told The Guardian that Lineker could use his Twitter account to his advantage.

That's because Lineker's defence rests on him being able to prove he is an independent contractor, and not a regular employee of the BBC.

"Lineker can argue that he is not subject to the same level of control as BBC employees given his apparent freedom to express personal and political views on social media,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher did stress that the case would be a tough one to fight.

Although Lineker was suspended for his comments online, the fact that the BBC reversed their decision - and have not taken action against him in the past for similarly politcal tweets - could help to support his argument.

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