BBC chairman vows he WON'T quit as broadcaster's top man digs in heels over bias row
An urgent review into the appointment of BBC chairman Richard Sharp is to take place
Richard Sharp says he will not stand down as chairman of the BBC following claims he was involved in arranging a guarantor on a loan of up to £800,000 for Boris Johnson in late 2020.
He told the BBC he was "confident" he would be cleared by a government watchdog probe into his appointment.
It emerged at the weekend that Sharp had helped secure the personal loan for then-Prime Minister Johnson before being appointed to the top job just weeks later.
However, Sharp says he is confident that he was "appointed on merit" and welcomed a review.
He has rejected suggestions that he should stand down pending the findings of an investigation by William Shawcross, the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
Sam Blyth, a multimillionaire who Sharp has described as an "old friend", had offered to be the guarantor on a loan following press reports which revealed that the then-Prime Minister was under financial pressure, according to the BBC.
Sharp said: “Having had a discussion with the Cabinet Secretary about avoiding conflict, and the perception of conflict, I felt comfortable and I still feel there was no conflict, because at that stage what I was seeking to do was ensure that the process was followed exactly by the book and that the process hadn’t started, of any kind, in terms of any support that Sam [Blyth] was going to provide to the prime minister.”
Sharp says he was involved in discussions in December 2020, a few weeks before being announced as the government's choice for the senior BBC role.
He claims he informed the cabinet secretary of his application to be chairman and agreed with then-Cabinet Secretary Simon Case that he should play no further part in any loan talks.
Sharp, a former Goldman Sachs banker, was announced as the Government’s choice for the BBC role in January 2021.
In May 2021, Johnson, Sharp and Blyth had dinner at Chequers, though they denied the PM’s finances were discussed.
When asked how that meeting came about, he said Blyth had called him to say he was "having dinner with [Mr Johnson]" at Chequers.
"I said, 'yeah great', I'd never been to Chequers. I drove down… and I used that opportunity to bat for the BBC", Sharp said.
The chairman of the BBC insists that the the loan arrangement did not come up and that he doesn't "know anything" about Johnson's personal finances.
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