BBC chairman Richard Sharp is facing calls for an inquiry into his appointment amid claims he helped secure a loan to Boris Johnson – the then prime minister recommended him for the role.
The former banker, 64, worked in the financial sector for more than 30 years, including a 23-year stint at investment giant Goldman Sachs, where he was reportedly mentored by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Prior to this, he worked for JP Morgan in both commercial and investment banking.
Mr Sharp, who read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford, is also a former President of the Royal Academy and an Emeritus Trustee.
He reportedly acted as an informal advisor to Mr Sunak at the start of the pandemic and was instrumental in the creation of the government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund.
He was also a member of the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee from 2013 to 2019, and sits on the board of the Center for Policy Studies, a think tank founded by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s.
Mr Sharpe’s appointment as chairman of the BBC in February 2021 during one of the most turbulent periods in its history was widely considered apolitical.
At the time, the corporation faced competition from equal pay, diversity, free TV licenses for over 75s and streaming services such as Netflix.
Mr Sharpe, who is a multi-millionaire and has appeared in the Sunday Times Rich List, is a long-term donor to the Conservative Party and sat on Boris Johnson’s board of economic advisers when he was mayor of London.
During his tenure at the BBC, he defended the broadcaster on several occasions and used his platform to highlight the importance of journalism speaking “truth to truth” while addressing the threat of disinformation faced by the industry.
In 2021, the controversy surrounding the hiring of Jess Brammer as head of news channels denied her appointment was “tainted” after her impartiality was questioned following the emergence of old tweets in which she spoke about Brexit. was criticizing.
Last year he criticized the government’s two-year freeze on license fees, describing it as “disappointing” and saying it would lead to “difficult choices” that would affect viewers.
But later in the year he said the board “welcomes an informed debate” about the broadcaster’s future funding and “nothing should be off the table”.
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He also said former BBC presenter Emily Maitlis was “completely wrong” to suggest that “due process was followed” after criticizing the way the corporation handled his Newsnight speech about Dominic Cummings. has not been”.
In an apparent reference to former prime minister Theresa May’s former communications director Sir Robbie Gibb, Ms Maitlis said the BBC was “an active agent of the Conservative Party” on the board and the corporation “tried to hush up” Number 10 His monologue was followed by the then Chief Adviser’s visit to Durham during the lockdown.
The chairman told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee (DCMS) that Ms Maitlis’s candid statement about Sir Robbie was “completely wrong” and he was “disappointed” she had said this.
Mr Sharp told the Sunday Times, which reported his alleged involvement in helping arrange Mr Johnson’s loan, that he had “just connected” people and had no conflict of interest.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said the newspaper report was “rubbish” and that his financial arrangements had been “properly disclosed”.