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Labor urges inquiry into BBC chairman’s claim ‘helped Johnson arrange guarantee on loan’

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Ebor is demanding an investigation following claims that the BBC chairman helped Boris Johnson guarantee loans of up to £800,000 a week before being recommended for the job by the then prime minister.

The party has written to parliamentary commissioner for standards Daniel Greenberg following a report in The Sunday Times that Tory donor Richard Sharpe was involved in talks about Mr Johnson’s funding when he found himself in financial difficulty at the end of 2020.

According to the newspaper, Mr Sharp introduced millionaire Canadian businessman Sam Blyth, who offered to act as the then PM’s guarantor for the credit facility.

The Sunday Times said Mr Johnson, Mr Sharpe and Mr Blyth had dinner at Chequers before the loan was finalised, although they denied discussing the PM’s finances.

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no protest when I simply, at his request, associate Mr Blyth with the Cabinet Secretary and there was no further involvement

Mr Sharp, a former Goldman Sachs banker, was announced as the government’s choice for the BBC role in January 2021.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson dismissed the report as “nonsense” and insisted his financial arrangements had been “properly declared”.

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“Richard Sharpe never gave any financial advice to Boris Johnson, nor did Mr Johnson ask him for any financial advice,” the spokesman said.

Regarding Mr Johnson’s private dinner with Mr Sharp, an old friend, and Mr Blyth, a distant relative, the spokesman said: “So what? Big deal.”

Mr Sharpe told The Sunday Times: “There is no conflict when I simply, at his request, associated Mr Blyth with the Cabinet Secretary and there was no further involvement.”

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A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC plays no role in the Chair’s recruitment and any questions are a matter for the Government.”

In a letter to Mr Greenberg, Labor Party chair Anneliese Dodds called for an “urgent investigation” as she cited a code of conduct for MPs that “bars holders of public office from exposing themselves to outside persons or organizations for any financial or other not be placed under liability which may affect them in the performance of their official duties”.

She told the Standards Commissioner she was concerned that Mr Johnson “may have breached this clause by asking someone to stand guarantee on a loan who he would later appoint to a senior public role”.

The financial affairs of this disgraced former prime minister are becoming increasingly obscure

“The lack of transparency around this, like the issue raised around Mr Blyth, could give the impression that this was a compensation arrangement,” she said.

Labor earlier this week demanded an inquiry into reports that Mr Johnson had allegedly used Mr Blyth to act as guarantor for an £800,000 credit facility worth $50 million.

Ms Dodds raised concerns that neither alleged arrangement had been properly announced.

She said: “The financial affairs of this disgraced former prime minister just keep getting murky, dragging the Conservative Party into yet another quagmire.

“Serious questions need to be asked of Johnson: why has this money never been declared, and what exactly did he promise these very generous friends in return for such generous loans?”

(Tags to translate) Boris Johnson

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