The problem with the BBC is they are now “frightened of themselves”, according to former Match of the Day pundit Mark Lawrenson.
He was speaking after Gary Lineker found himself in hot water with the British state broadcaster over his criticism of the UK Government’s asylum seeker policy.
The BBC’s highest-paid presenter called the UK’s new asylum seekers policy “immeasurable cruel” and compared the language the British Government used to set it out to "that used by Germany in the 30s".
The days since have seen some people calling for him to be sacked, with UK ministers claiming his comments ‘diminish the unspeakable tragedy” of the holocaust.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, former Republic of Ireland international and BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson said Lineker is perfectly entitled to his opinion.
“I think his initial words about relating it to the Nazis in the 1930s, that was a mistake but, in all honesty, what he actually said in the rest of what he said was absolutely perfectly fine,” he said.
“He’s got his own opinion which I don’t really have a problem with whatsoever.
“We live in such a woke world now as everybody knows. As soon as you think you’ve said something wrong, everybody wants to jump on it and it’s all like, the next thing is, oh you should sack him, you should sack him, you should do this and that.
“Listen, we are all entitled to our own opinion – what is the problem with everybody?”
Lineker has since come out to say he does not fear any BBC suspension, noting that he is "looking forward to presenting" the show on Saturday.
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. Thanks again for all your incredible support. It’s been overwhelming.
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) March 9, 2023
Lawrenson said he expects the controversy to blow over, noting, “I think the BBC have looked at this and for once they’ve made the right decision and just let him get on with it.”
He criticised the broadcaster for even considering sanctioning Lineker.
“The problem with the BBC is that they are frightened of themselves and I do blame it on all this woke thing which has just gone completely mad,” he said.
“I believe we got it from America which probably says everything about it doesn’t it?”
In his original tweet, Lineker commented on a UK Government video unveiling plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel on small boats and saying the UK is being "overwhelmed".
He wrote: "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."
You can listen back to Mark Lawrenson here: