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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Dias

Gary Lineker and the battle for Refugee Rights

Gary Lineker, a football presenter on the BBC, has been suspended from presenting Match of the Day after the corporation deemed his social media posts as having breached impartiality guidelines. The decision came after he criticised the Home Office’s handling of asylum seekers arriving in the UK, tweeting that the “majority of refugees are fleeing persecution, war or famine” and “the way we treat them is a disgrace”.

Lineker likened the language used by some ministers about asylum seekers to “that used by Germany in the 30’s”.

Lineker, who has two years left on his contract to present Match of the Day, has not yet commented on his suspension, but a BBC spokesperson said he would be off air until an agreement was reached on his future use of social media. If Lineker refuses to back down, then it opens up the possibility of him leaving the corporation. The Channel 5 News presenter Dan Walker, who exchanged text messages with Lineker, said the presenter had emphasised that it was the BBC’s decision to take him off screen. The BBC has faced criticism for its handling of the situation, with some accusing it of censorship and others suggesting it has caved to political pressure.

Lineker, a well-known advocate for migrant rights, has been vocal in his support for those who have been affected by the UK's immigration policies. His views on this issue have been widely known, and he has not shied away from expressing them publicly. However, his comments have not been well-received by some, including a right-wing UK tabloid, which ran an article criticising Lineker for his views on immigration. The article called him a "virtue-signalling luvvie" and accused him of being out of touch with ordinary people.

Despite the backlash, Lineker has continued to speak out in support of migrants, and this has led to his suspension from hosting Match of the Day. While the BBC has not officially stated the reason for his suspension, it is widely believed that his views on immigration are the cause. This is a worrying development, as it sends a message that those who defend the rights of migrants are not welcome in the mainstream media. This can have a chilling effect on free speech, as others may be hesitant to express their views for fear of being ostracised or even losing their jobs.

As a society, we should be protecting the right to free speech and encouraging debate on important issues such as immigration. Instead, we are punishing those who speak out in defence of the vulnerable and marginalised. It is important to remember that migrants are human beings, with the same rights as everyone else. They are not to blame for society's problems, and they deserve our respect and support. By silencing those who defend their rights, we are perpetuating a dangerous cycle of fear and prejudice that only serves to harm us all.

In the words of Lineker himself, "We should be proud of our country's long and honourable history of giving sanctuary to those in need."

The 1951 Refugee Convention is an international treaty that outlines the rights of refugees and the obligations of the countries that host them. The Convention was drafted and adopted by the United Nations in response to the mass displacement of people in Europe after World War II. Britain was one of the countries that played a key role in the drafting and implementation of the Refugee Convention. In fact, it was a British lawyer named William Penn who first proposed the idea of a refugee convention to the United Nations.

After Penn's proposal, Britain played an active role in the drafting of the Convention, which took place in Geneva in 1951. British representatives were among the delegates who negotiated the text of the Convention, and they played an important role in shaping its provisions.

Once the Convention was adopted, Britain was one of the first countries to sign and ratify it. The British government also played an important role in promoting the Convention and encouraging other countries to adopt it. Today, the Refugee Convention is widely considered to be one of the most important human rights treaties in the world, and Britain's role in its drafting and implementation is widely recognised.

Let us not forget this history, and let us not let this current Government undo Britain's proud legacy of Refugee and humanitarian support. We must stand together in defence of those who are most vulnerable in our society. We at Lawyery stand with Mr Lineker, and with Refugees, in these dark times. The Refugee Council has set up a campaign “Together with Refugees” to show support for refugees and we urge anyone who stands with us to sign up by following the link below.


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