BBC Chair Richard Sharp has asked the BBC Board to review conflicts of interest regarding his appointment in the wake of the Boris Johnson loan scandal that broke over the weekend.
Sharp has been under pressure since a bombshell Sunday Times report that said he had helped organize the PM’s meeting with a guarantor for an £800,000 ($990,000) loan in 2020, before being appointed Chair by the government several weeks later.
The report has led to widespread accusations of a conflict of interest regarding Sharp’s appointment and the opposition Labour Party has called for an inquiry. Former Goldman Sachs banker Sharp is a former adviser to now Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and has in the past donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Conservative Party.
BBC Chairman Helped Boris Johnson Secure $990,000 Loan Weeks Before Winning Job – Reports
A statement from Sharp read out on BBC News in the last few minutes said he “has agreed with the BBC Board’s Senior Independent Director that the committee shall look at this when it next meets and publish the conclusions,” which will likely take place next month.
“Our work at the BBC is rooted in trust,” added Sharp. “Although the appointment of the BBC Chairman is solely a matter for the government, I want to ensue that all the appropriate guidelines have been followed.”
The move comes a few hours before senior civil servants are due to appear in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, during which the Sharp saga will no doubt come up.
The Sunday Times reported that Sharp met Sam Blyth, a Canadian businessman and distant cousin of the former Prime Minister, in October 2020, who is said to have raised the idea of acting as a guarantor on a credit facility for Johnson and asked Sharp for advice on the best way forward. The now BBC chairman agreed to help Blyth and introduced him to Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, the paper reported.
The report has raised concerns over the government and BBC’s relationship at a time when the relationship has been doing well, with the Conservatives seemingly pleased with the way in which Sharp and Director General Tim Davie have been running the ship over the past couple of years.
The BBC has been quick to stress that it has nothing to do with the appointment, with a spokesman saying: “The BBC plays no role in the recruitment of the Chair and any questions are a matter for the government.”
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