BBC chairman Richard Sharp is fighting to keep his job after a cross-party group of MPs accused him of “significant errors of judgement”. The former Goldman Sachs banker denies facilitating a loan between then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian businessman Sam Blyth, but he apologizes for not providing MPs with the full facts.
He is under fire for not telling MPs during the pre-appointment scrutiny process that he had met with Cabinet Secretary Simon Case and told him Mr Blyth wanted to help Mr Johnson.
MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee have today published a scathing report in which they say Mr Sharp should “consider the impact his omissions will have on trust in him, the BBC and the public appointments process”.
The committee had backed his appointment but was not aware of his role in Mr Johnson securing a reported £800,000 loan guarantee. Labor says Mr Sharp’s position is now “increasingly untenable because it throws into serious doubt the impartiality and independence that is so fundamental to trust in the BBC”.
The MPs on the DCMS committee state in their report: “Richard Sharp’s decisions, firstly 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 then to fail to disclose this material relationship, were significant errors of judgment.
“They undermine confidence in the public appointments process and could deter qualified individuals from applying for such posts.”
They warn his actions “constitute a breach of the standards expected of individuals applying for such public appointments”.
A spokesman for Mr Sharp said: “Mr Sharp appreciates there was information the committee felt it should have been made aware of in his pre-appointment hearing.
“He regrets this and apologizes. Mr Sharp believed he had dealt with the issue by pro-actively briefing the Cabinet Secretary he was applying for the role of BBC chair, and therefore beyond connecting Mr Blyth with Mr Case, he recused himself.
“At that meeting, and subsequently, it was not suggested by the Cabinet Office that the act of connecting Mr Blyth with Mr Case was something that should be declared, and it was explicitly agreed that by not being party to the matter going forward he would be excluded from any conflict.”
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “The office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments is reviewing the competition to ensure the process was run in compliance with the rules.”