The Sunday Times published a leaked document from December 2020, advising then Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “no longer ask Richard Sharp’s advice about your personal financial matters.” According to the memo, officials warned Johnson in December 2020. Sharp, the second largest shareholder in Oncimmune and Johnson’s preferred candidate, was appointed the BBC Chairman in January 2021. In February 2021, Johnson secured the loan.
The news report reveals that Canadian businessman Sam Blyth had offered to guarantee an £ 800,000 loan to Boris Johnson in November 2020. Richard Sharp had said all he had done was introduce an “old friend,” Blyth, to discuss how Johnson could be assisted. Richard Sharp maintains not to know anything about any financial arrangements reached between Johnson and Blyth.
The leaked memo however advised Johnson that since Sam Blyth can claim a family connection to him, the loan would not need to be declared.
“The fact that you have this arrangement with a family member should not count as something that needs to be declared as a relevant interest and therefore made public,” the memo reads.
In a letter to all BBC staff, Richard Shapr said he was not involved in making a loan to Johnson or arranging a guarantee and had not announced financing. “I was not involved in making a loan or arranging a guarantee, and I did not arrange any financing, what I did do was seek an introduction of Sam Blyth to the relevant official in government,” Sharp stated in an email.
Following The Sunday Times’ memo release, Boris Johnson said he never sought nor received financial advice from Sharp.
“Let me just tell you, Richard Sharp is a good nut and a wise man. But he knows absolutely nothing about my personal finances. I can tell you that for 100% ding dang sure. This is just another example of the BBC disappearing up its own fundament,” said Johnson.
William Shawcross, the Commissioner for Public Appointments, and the BBC are investigating Sharp for any potential conflict of interest that led to his appointment.
What happens next? Will the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee call Richard Sharp for some questioning?