Gary Lineker has said he will not be “bullied” by the Daily Mail after the tabloid newspaper accused the former England footballer of tax avoidance in a highly critical two-page article.
In a 2,600-word article published on Thursday under the headline: “Holier than thou hypocrite”, the Daily Mail, which is owned by the non-domicile Lord Rothermere, claims Lineker has used a complex scheme to avoid paying as much tax as the “man or woman on the street”.
Lineker, who has previously faced calls from tabloid newspapers to stand down from his BBC role, responded to the claims on Twitter, stating he pays taxes “in full”.
Lineker, host of BBC Match of the Day and one of the BBC’s best-known faces, regularly expresses his political views on Twitter, which have included anti-Brexit and pro-refugee arguments.
The former Leicester, Everton, Spurs and Barcelona striker, also vowed to continue to “speak up for refugees and immigrants and British values of tolerance and free speech”.
The article devotes 17 paragraphs to recounting what the rightwing newspaper calls Lineker’s “leftwing take on global politics” and “oh-so right-on views” before first mention of the 55-year-old presenter’s alleged tax affairs.
Lineker is branded “sanctimonious”, while Twitter, where he has 5.6m followers, is labelled a “smug echo chamber of woolly liberalism” by feature writer Guy Adams. Adams has posted more than 20,000 tweets to his more than 14,000 followers.
Among the views expressed by Lineker with which the Mail appears to take issue are his portrait of Brexit Britain as a “dystopian land”, his opinion that public attitudes to refugees can be “hideously racist and utterly heartless”, his take on Nigel Farage as “disgusting” and Iain Duncan Smith as an “irritable dunce”.
Lineker’s stance against the politics of Donald Trump, the far right and the Front National French presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, are also listed as examples of his position on the “moral high ground”.
Last year, the Sun newspaper called for Lineker to be sacked over what it called “migrant lies” amid ongoing public debate about the government’s treatment of child refugees from Calais.
The BBC previously said Lineker was a freelance broadcaster and he tweeted in a personal capacity.
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