Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Thursday, Jun 01, 2023

Richard Sharp: Pressure grows on BBC chairman after critical report

Richard Sharp: Pressure grows on BBC chairman after critical report

Pressure is growing on BBC chairman Richard Sharp after a critical report from MPs into his appointment.

He made "significant errors of judgement" acting as a go-between on a loan for Boris Johnson, while applying for the post, the committee said.

The SNP's John Nicolson, a committee member, told the BBC Mr Sharp's position was "extremely difficult".

Mr Sharp said he did not help arrange a guarantee on the loan or give Mr Johnson financial advice.

Speaking on BBC One's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Labour's Lisa Nandy also said Mr Sharp's position was becoming "increasingly untenable".

Mr Sharp's involvement in the then-Prime Minister Mr Johnson obtaining an £800,000 loan guarantee has come under scrutiny since the Sunday Times first reported the claims last month.

Businessman Sam Blyth, a distant cousin of Mr Johnson and Mr Sharp's friend, had reportedly raised the idea of acting as a loan guarantor for Mr Johnson in 2020.

Mr Sharp was named as the government's preferred candidate for the BBC chairmanship in January 2021 and at the time the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee backed his appointment.

The government's choice is ultimately decided by the prime minister, on the advice of the culture secretary, who is in turn advised by a panel.

This week the BBC chairman was recalled to appear before the committee and its report was published on Sunday.

Speaking to MPs he said he had introduced his friend Mr Blyth to the Cabinet Office.

In its report, the cross-party committee criticised Mr Sharp's failure to mention any involvement he had in events surrounding the loan when they were considering his suitability for the job two years ago.

The report said his decisions to "become involved in the facilitation of a loan to the then-prime minister while at the same time applying for a job that was in that same person's gift" and failure to disclose this to the committee undermined confidence in the public appointments process.

The MPs concluded: "Mr Sharp should consider the impact his omissions will have on trust in him, the BBC and the public appointments process."

The report, carefully worded, does not say in black and white that he should quit. But it says he should "consider the impact" of what has happened, which is a diplomatic way of raising that point.

On Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, the SNP's Mr Nicolson went further than the report had, saying Mr Sharp's position was "extremely difficult" after he "broke the rules".

He said: "He has lost the trust of the BBC staff, that's very clear.

"When you sign up for that job application you are asked if there's anything about your relationships with anybody that could cause embarrassment.

"This has clearly caused embarrassment."

Mr Nicolson said Mr Sharp had not told MPs at the time of his appointment that he had facilitated an £800,000 loan for Mr Johnson "who then gave him the job".

"It's all a bit banana republic," he added.

Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell told the same programme it was up to the BBC to decide what to do over Mr Sharp's future. He also said it was important to wait for a review into his hiring by the watchdog that oversees public appointments.

But he was challenged on this during the programme as according to the BBC charter the chairman can only be removed from post by the government, not the BBC.

Shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy said it was "right that the BBC is able to publish" its own review into Mr Sharp's appointment, and that "due process is followed".

But she added that when the BBC's report was published, if questions still could not be answered, "the integrity of the BBC is more important than one individual".

'Acted in good faith'

This week Mr Sharp told the committee he had met Cabinet Secretary Simon Case in December 2020 to get permission to pass on businessman Mr Blyth's details to him.

However, at the same meeting he had told Mr Case that he had applied for the BBC job, and therefore agreed he would have "no further participation" in order to avoid any conflict of interest or perception of conflict given his application to the BBC.

In its report, the DCMS Committee said Mr Sharp had recognised the need to be "open and transparent" by bringing it to the attention of the cabinet secretary, but "failed to apply the same standards of openness and candour in his decision not to divulge this information during the interview process or to this committee during the pre-appointment hearing [for the BBC job]".

"Mr Sharp's failure to disclose his actions to the panel and the committee, although he believed this to be completely proper, constitute a breach of the standards expected of individuals applying for such public appointments," the report added.

A spokesperson for Mr Sharp said he did not facilitate an introduction between Mr Johnson and Mr Blyth and he was not involved in the arrangement of a loan between them.

"Mr Sharp appreciates that there was information that the committee felt that it should have been made aware of in his pre-appointment hearing. He regrets this and apologises.

"It was in seeking at the time to ensure that the rules were followed, and in the belief that this had been achieved, that Mr Sharp acted in good faith in the way he did."

The spokesperson added: "Mr Sharp believed he had dealt with the issue by proactively briefing the cabinet secretary that he was applying for the role of BBC chair, and therefore beyond connecting Mr Blyth with Mr Case, he recused himself from the matter."

The DCMS Committee report was also critical of ministers who had defended the decision to endorse Mr Sharp in 2021 after the row over the loan broke, despite the fact they had not been told about the situation.

"The fact that ministers have cited this committee's original report on Mr Sharp's appointment as a defence of the process was followed, when we were not in full possession of all the facts that we should have had before us in order to come to our judgement, is highly unsatisfactory," the report said.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said Mr Sharp was made BBC chairman following two "transparent and rigorous" appointment processes, adding the appointment was made by his predecessor.

According to the Sunday Times, a leaked memo from Mr Case allegedly warned Mr Johnson to "no longer" ask for financial advice from Mr Sharp.

But the MPs in this new report said there was an "unresolved issue" as to why the cabinet secretary had believed Mr Sharp had been giving financial advice to Mr Johnson and called on the Cabinet Office to "clear up the confusion relating to the advice given to the prime minister immediately", given that Mr Sharp had said this was not the case.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "We do not comment on leaks."

The Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments is still looking into the appointment process of Richard Sharp.

The BBC is also conducting its own internal review over any potential conflicts of interest Mr Sharp may have in his role as BBC chairman.

It is not known when ether of these reviews will be concluded.

John Nicolson, SNP MP: BBC chairman's position "is extremely difficult"

Labour's Lisa Nandy: BBC chairman's position "increasingly untenable"

AI Disclaimer: An advanced artificial intelligence (AI) system generated the content of this page on its own. This innovative technology conducts extensive research from a variety of reliable sources, performs rigorous fact-checking and verification, cleans up and balances biased or manipulated content, and presents a minimal factual summary that is just enough yet essential for you to function as an informed and educated citizen. Please keep in mind, however, that this system is an evolving technology, and as a result, the article may contain accidental inaccuracies or errors. We urge you to help us improve our site by reporting any inaccuracies you find using the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this page. Your helpful feedback helps us improve our system and deliver more precise content. When you find an article of interest here, please look for the full and extensive coverage of this topic in traditional news sources, as they are written by professional journalists that we try to support, not replace. We appreciate your understanding and assistance.

Related Articles

Nvidia Joins Tech Giants as First Chipmaker to Reach $1 Trillion Valuation
Drone Attack on Moscow's Wealthiest Neighborhoods Suspected to be Launched by Ukraine
Elon Musk Meets Chinese Finance Minister in Beijing
AI ‘extinction’ should be same priority as nuclear war – experts
Prominent Hacker Forum RaidForums Suffers Substantial Data Breach
Nvidia CEO Huang says firms, individuals without AI expertise will be left behind
WPP Revolutionizes Advertising with NVIDIA's AI Powerhouse
Two US Employees Fired For Chasing Robbers Out Of Store As They Broke ''Company Policy''
If you donated to BLM, you got played
Pfizer, the EU, and disappearing ink - Smoke, Mirrors, and the Billion-Dose Pfizer Vaccine Deal: EU's 'Open Secret
Actor Tom Hanks told Harvard University graduates to be superheroes in their defense of truth and American ideals, and to resist those who twist the truth for their own gain
The Sussexes' Royal Rebound: Could Harry and Meghan Markle Return to the UK?
A provocative study suggests: Left-Wing Extremism and its Unsettling Connection to Psychopathy and Narcissism
France Arrests 10 on Suspicion of Failing to Respond in Time to Migrant Drowning
Neuralink Receives FDA Approval for First-in-Human Clinical Study
Is Saudi Arabia the holiest place in the world? Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions from "The Mount Sinai Stand" Discovered in Saudi Arabia
Ukrainian Intelligence Official Admits to Assassination Attempts on Putin
Bernard Arnault Loses $11.2 Billion in One Day as Investors Fear Slowdown in US Growth Will Reduce Demand for Luxury Products
Russian’s Wagner Group leader: “I am not a chef, I am a butcher. Russia is in danger of a revolution like in 1917.”
TikTok Sues Montana Over Law Banning the App
Ron DeSantis Jumps Into 2024 Presidential Race, Setting Up Showdown With Trump
Last Walmart in North Portland Closing Down
Florida's DeSantis seeks to disqualify judge in Disney case
Talks between US House Republicans and President Biden's Democratic administration on raising the federal government's $31.4tn debt ceiling have paused
Biden Administration Eyeing High-Profile Visits to China: The Biden Administration is heating things up by looking into setting up a series of top-level visits to Beijing by top officials in the coming months
New evidence in special counsel probe may undercut Trump’s claim documents he took were automatically declassified
A French court of appeals confirmed former President Nicolas Sarkozy's three-year jail term for corruption and influence peddling
Debt Ceiling Crises Have Unleashed Political Chaos
Weibao Wang, a former software engineer at Apple, was charged with stealing trade secrets related to autonomous systems, including self-driving cars
Mobile phone giant Vodafone to cut 11,000 jobs globally over three years as new boss says its performance not good enough
Elon Musk compares George Soros to Magneto, the supervillain from the Marvel Comics series.
Warren Buffett Sells TSMC Shares Over Concerns About Taiwan's Stability
New Study Finds That Secondary Bacterial Pneumonia Is a Major Cause of Death in COVID-19 Patients Who Require Ventilator Assistance
The Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines calls the British monarchy "an absurdity" he wants to remove in his lifetime
King Charles III being crowned.
'Godfather Of AI' Geoffrey Hinton Quits Google To Warn Of The Tech's Dangers
A Real woman
Vermont Man Charged with Stalking After Secretly Tracking Woman with Apple AirTag
Elon Musk Statements About Tesla Autopilot Could Be 'Deepfakes,' Lawyers Claim. Judge Evette Pennypacker Does Not Understand How Far and Advanced This Technology Became
Ukraine More Prepared for Counterattack as Reinforcements Arrive
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni Discuss Migration, Defence, and Ukraine
AT&T's Successful Test of Satellite-Based Phone Call Raises Possibility of Widespread Coverage
CNN: "Joe Biden is asking for four more years — when 74% of Americans think the country is heading the wrong way“
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Cuts Short Live TV Interview Due to Health Issue
US Congresswoman threaten Twitter Files journalist with arrest
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh slams New York Times' pro-government stance and treatment of sources
Enough is enough: it's time to end the war in Ukraine. While Russia may be to blame for starting it, Russia is not the one refusing to stop it
Fox News Settles their case with Dominion Voting Systems for a staggering $787.5 MILLION
AG decries scapegoating and rushed lawmaking by government
The land of the free violence