AN SNP MP has clashed with the director-general of the BBC over the corporation’s decision to take Gary Lineker off the air due to comments he made about the UK Government on social media.

In March, Lineker was taken off the air after posting a tweet in which he said the language used by the UK Government around immigration was not dissimilar to that used in 1930s Germany.

However, after numerous other presenters decided not to broadcast in solidarity with Lineker the BBC was forced to allow him to return to the Match of the Day presenting chair and launch an independent review into its social media guidance.

During a meeting of Westminster’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Tuesday, director general Tim Davie was asked whether he regretted the way the situation was handled.

“It was certainly a busy weekend,” he said.

“I regret audiences were impacted at the end of the day. The idea that we didn’t put out a full programme I’ll always regret.”

He was then quizzed about the predicted findings of the BBC’s review into its social media guidelines by SNP MP John Nicolson.

The MP for Ochil and South Perthshire said that he himself had been interviewed by TV executive John Hardie, who is conducting the review, before asking whether Davie knew what the results of the inquiry are.

“No. He’s talked to me, like you, in terms of interviews. And [there are] indications of the kind of field of play you are in, which is how much do you restrict, how much do you free.

“All of that balance. But we’re waiting on the final report and then we can take that and then construct the guidelines from that.”

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But Nicolson said his understanding was that Hardie’s report would conclude “the common sense position”.

“I can let you into a secret,” said Nicolson. “My understanding is that his report will probably conclude the kind of common sense position, which is that if you’re a news presenter you’re not allowed to say anything on social media that identifies your politics.

“If you’re a sports presenter or a natural history presenter, you’ll be given a lot more leeway to express your views.”

However, Davie said he was “surprised” that Nicolson was “pre-empting the review” and insisted that he would be waiting for the full review to be published.

“Well, I’m an MP, I don’t work for the BBC, I can pre-empt away and I think that would be a very good conclusion.

“It wasn’t great for you personally that weekend, was it? You told Gary Lineker to go away and apologise.

“He didn’t apologise. He reappeared at the end of the weekend and he kind of won that particular tussle with you.

“Because he went back on screen, didn’t have to make any concessions, you had to concede an independent review and the independent review, I think, from the sounds of it, will probably back the Gary Lineker position rather than the Tim Davie position.”

But Davie said that Nicolson’s description was an “simplistic reading of the situation”.

“It was a difficult weekend. You get to a point where you worry about viewers and you make sure you’ve got things back on air.

“We needed to resolve the situation. How to do that was to get a review and try to get some common ground so we could move forward. That’s what we did.”

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Asked why he had only instigated a review after several other presenters decided to boycott their broadcasting duties, Davies said that “hindsight was a wonderful thing”.

Nicolson then asked whether Davies still enjoyed the full confidence of the board and the executive in the BBC.

“Well, I hope I’ve got good backing of the BBC executive team,” he replied. “I suspect I know where you’re going. It’s been a tough time within the staff base.

“Do you want to ask the question around the staff survey, I’m assuming that’s where you’re going.”

The results of a survey released in March found that 3 in 4 BBC staff have no confidence in the corporation’s leadership.

Nicolson replied: “Why don’t I ask the questions and you just come in with the answers?”