An inquiry revealed Richard Sharp’s failure to disclose that he provided financial advice to ex-PM Boris Johnson prior to his appointment.
The chairman of UK state broadcaster BBC, Richard Sharp, has announced his resignation after a report found him in breach of the governance code for public appointments. The probe uncovered that he had withheld information over his involvement with former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s finances, before getting the top job at the media network.
The claim first appeared in the Sunday Times back in January. The commissioner of public appointments subsequently tasked barrister Adam Heppinstall with investigating its veracity.
In a statement published on the BBC’s website on Friday, Sharp insisted that while he “did breach the governance code for public appointments,” the lapse was “inadvertent and not material.” The public broadcaster’s head claimed that the inquiry had confirmed this, concluding that a “breach does not necessarily invalidate an appointment.”
Sharp went on to explain that he had decided to vacate his post regardless to “prioritise the interests of the BBC.”
He will, however, remain in office until June when a successor is appointed.
Sharp claims he acted “in good faith” and “with the best of intentions,” when he introduced Canadian multi-millionaire Sam Blyth to the then-prime minister back in December 2020.
The former ended up acting as a loan guarantor for Johnson, with up to £800,000 ($997,440) reportedly provided to the politician. The Times reported that Sharp had facilitated the meeting between the two just weeks before Johnson recommended him for the top job at the BBC.
In his statement on Friday, Sharp described his failure to disclose information about his involvement as an “oversight.”
The allegations against Sharp made by The Times saw multiple Labour lawmakers call for an investigation into the case and for the BBC’s chair resignation.
Sharp eventually spoke in favor of such a review himself, insisting that it would prove there was no conflict of interest in his appointment.