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19 April 2023

Is Richard Sharp toast?

Apparently, the BBC chairman has barely been seen around Broadcasting House.

By The Chatterer

You could be forgiven for thinking that Richard Sharp had already quietly left the BBC.

It is now four months since it emerged that Sharp, a former banker, played some kind of role in the facilitation of a loan to Boris Johnson around the same time that the then-prime minister recommended him for the BBC chairmanship. 

The Commons’ Digital, Culture Media and Sport Committee has already ruled that Sharp made “significant errors of judgement” by failing to declare this as a conflict of interest during his appointment process.

But yesterday the FT reported that the findings of another investigation into the BBC chairman’s selection, prepared for the commissioner of public appointments by Adam Heppinstall KC, make for “grim” reading. One person briefed on the report told the paper that Sharp may well decide to “jump before he is pushed”. 

But will anybody even notice? One BBC insider told the Chatterer: “Personally, I haven’t seen him in months.” The source said Sharp, who started at the Beeb in early 2021, used to be seen in Broadcasting House “from time to time”. But no longer.

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For the record, Sharp has always maintained that his role in the Johnson loan was limited to introducing Sam Blyth (Johnson’s distant cousin who later provided the former PM with a loan guarantee) to Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, because he wanted to ensure that “due process” was followed.

[See also: Can the BBC recover from Richard Sharp’s disastrous chairmanship]

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