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BBC board to investigate chair Richard Sharp

Shadow culture minister Lucy Powell has called for an investigation into the process of Sharp's appointment to "satisfy the public and parliament of its integrity"

BBC chair Richard Sharp has asked the broadcaster’s board to investigate conflicts of interest regarding his appointment to the role.

In a statement, Sharp said he “has agreed with the BBC board’s senior independent director that the committee shall look at this when it next meets and publish the conclusions.”

“Our work at the BBC is rooted in trust,” added Sharp. “Although the appointment of the BBC chairman is solely a matter for the government, I want to ensue that all the appropriate guidelines have been followed.”

He has subsequently asked the BBC’s nominations committee to investigate.

Over the weekend The Sunday Times reported that Sharp was involved in helping to arrange a guarantor on a loan of up to £800,000 for Mr Johnson in late 2020 before being appointed to the role of BBC chair.

Both men have denied any wrongdoing. Sharp said he “simply connected”: people and there was no conflict of interest.

Labour’s shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell has written to the Public Appointments Commissioner calling on him to investigate the appointment of Richard Sharp as BBC chair following reports he helped former Prime Minister Boris Johnson secure a loan agreement.

Powell has written to the commissioner for public appointments, William Shawcross, “urging” him to investigate the process of Sharp’s appointment at the BBC, to “satisfy the public and parliament of its integrity”.

She added that Sharp’s involvement in securing the loan guarantee was not declared to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s appointment panel, the BBC or during his pre-appointment hearing before the DCMS select committee.

“The BBC derives its public trust and national standing from its independence and impartiality, something we hear a lot about from the government about the BBC,” added Powell. “It is vital that the public and parliament can have trust in this process and it is free from any real or perceived conflict of interest.”

The Cabinet Office has insisted that Sharp’s appointment followed “a rigorous appointments process including assessment by a panel of experts, constituted according to the public appointments code,” reports BBC News.

“There was additional pre-appointment scrutiny by a House of Commons Select Committee which confirmed Mr Sharp’s appointment. All the correct recruitment processes were followed.”