BBC Chairman Richard Sharp did not declare his involvement in helping Boris Johnson secure a loan worth up to £800,000 when he was Prime Minister. Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee issued a stern report that BBC Chairman and Tory donor left them without the full facts on his role in facilitating a loan for then Prime Minster Boris Johnson.
According to the MPs, it’s clear that Sharp showed “significant errors in judgment” when trying to become BBC chairman, but they still do not have enough information to decide on Sharp’s suitability for the job.
According to the MPs on the Culture and Media Committee, Sharp’s actions as a “go-between”on a loan for Boris Johnson have undermined confidence in the public appointments process.
On January 18, 2023, the Sunday Times reported on Sharp’s involvement in providing a loan to Boris Johnson, during which he was appointed as Chair of the BBC. While applying for the BBC role he introduced a friend who wanted to help Johnson financially to the head of the Civil Service, Simon Case.
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…Keep reading
“The public appointments process can only work effectively if everyone is open and transparent, yet Richard Sharp chose not to tell either the appointment panel or our Committee about his involvement in the facilitation of a loan to Boris Johnson. Such a significant error of judgment meant we were not in the full possession of the facts when we were required to rule on his suitability for the role of BBC Chair,” said Digital Culture Media and Sports Committee Acting Chair, Damian Green MP.
Sharp maintains he did nothing wrong
The BBC chairman Richard Sharp has said that while he may have made introductions, he did not get involved in Boris Johnson’s finances. He has apologized to MPs for not providing all the information they felt they needed to scrutinize his appointment.
Sharp, according to the report “has accepted that his failure to disclose this involvement has caused embarrassment to him and the BBC.”
In an email to BBC staff on January 23, 2023, Sharp wrote about his meeting with the Cabinet Secretary:
I went to see the Cabinet Secretary and explained who Sam was, and that as a cousin of the then Prime Minister he wanted to help him if possible.
I also reminded the Cabinet Secretary that I had submitted my application for the position of BBC Chairman.
We both agreed that to avoid any conflict that I should have nothing further to do with the matter.
At that point there was no detail on the proposed arrangements and I had no knowledge of whether any assistance was possible, or could be agreed.
Since that meeting I have had no involvement whatsoever with any process.”Sharep’s email to BBC staff on Jan 23, 2023
The BBC is conducting an internal review. According to the Labour Party who wants to see a conservative donor gone, Sharp’s s position is “untenable.”