BBC chair Sharp resigns following report on Johnson loan facilitation

Richard Sharp

BBC chairman Richard Sharp has announced his resignation after a report found he breached the code on public appointments.

The former Goldman Sachs banker, who was appointed to the role in 2021, found himself at the centre of controversy after he was alleged to have facilitated a loan for former prime minister Johnson in 2020.

The allegations prompted an investigation by the Commissioner of Public Appointments, whose report has been published today.

It said that two potential conflicts of interest areas had emerged. firstly, Sharp had told Johnson he wanted to apply for the chairmanship; and secondly, he had told the then-prime minister that he would be setting up the meeting between cabinet officials and a businessman offering Johnson financial assistance.

The report concluded that there “is a risk of a perception that Mr Sharp was recommended for appointment” having assisted with Johnson’s private financial issues. It added that there was also a risk that disclosing his intention to apply could have influenced the then-PM “to recommend him by informing him of his application before he submitted it.”

In confirming his resignation, Sharp said that his breaching of the ‘governance code’ for public appointments had been “inadvertent and not material”.

Tim Davie (credit: RTS/Richard Kendal)

He added that the report had found he did not play “any part whatsoever in the facilitation, arrangement or financing of a loan for the former prime minister.”

Sharp admitted, however, that during his appointment process for the BBC role he should have disclosed setting up the meeting between cabinet officials and the businessman offering the former prime minister financial assistance.

He apologised and described it as an “oversight”, adding that he did not want to be a “distraction” to the public broadcaster.

Sharp had worked closely with BBC director general Tim Davie in his year in the role, leading the pubcaster’s independent board, which decides the corporation’s overall direction, manages its performance and also oversees its complaints process.

However, the allegations meant he was unable to fully support Davie, particularly during recent controversies involving Gary Lineker and impartiality.

Davie said: “On behalf of the BBC Executive, I would like to thank Richard for his service to the BBC and the drive and intellect he brought to his time as chairman. Working with him over the last two years has been rewarding and Richard has made a significant contribution to the transformation and success of the BBC.

“The focus for all of us at the BBC is continuing the hard work to ensure we deliver for audiences, both now and in the future.’

Sharp remains in the job until June, with a successor being sought.

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