Richard Sharp ‘must fall on his sword and resign as BBC chairman’
Richard Sharp is facing growing calls to “fall on his sword” and resign as BBC chairman over the cronyism row caused by him helping Boris Johnson secure an £800,000 loan facility.
Rishi Sunak was standing by the embattled former banker despite a highly-critical cross-party report by MPs finding Mr Sharp chairman made “significant errors of judgment”.
Veteran broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby warned that Mr Sharp acting as a go-between shortly before being put forward for the role was causing a “great deal of damage for the BBC”.
He told BBC Newsnight: “I have no doubt he is an honourable man, no reason do I have to doubt that.
“But what he should do honourably is to fall on his sword and say’ in the interest of the BBC which I care about I don’t want this to go on and on and on, I shall stand aside’.”
Former journalist Baroness Wheatcroft, who sits on the Lords Communications and Digital Committee, added her voice to the demands for Mr Sharp to resign from the “plum job”.
“Mr Sharp may be a very honourable man but there’s no getting away from the fact he helped to organise an £800,000 loan that would get the prime minister out of financial trouble, he did him a favour just when he wanted the prime minister to give him the top job at the BBC,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“Even if Mr Sharp behaved absolutely correctly, it doesn’t look right, it doesn’t smell right, and it doesn’t feel right for the BBC to have a chairman who is now being questioned about his judgment.
“What the BBC needs in a chairman is impeccable judgment.”
The new calls came after a report from the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said Mr Sharp failed to declare to MPs his role in facilitating the arrangement when he was applying for the job.
The MPs said his actions “constitute a breach of the standards expected of individuals” applying for prominent public appointments.
Mr Sunak said on Monday he will await the outcome of the inquiry ordered by the Commissioner for Public Appointments despite calls from Labour for Mr Sharp to go.
Mr Sharp has apologised for introducing his friend Sam Blyth, a cousin of Mr Johnson who wanted to help the then-prime minister with his financial troubles, to the Cabinet Office.
Downing Street said Mr Sunak supports Mr Sharp in the role, and was “confident” in the “process” that led to his appointment.
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