As everyone discusses Sunak’s seatbelt and private jet farce and Zahawi’s tax affairs, a BBC boss must be hoping this story goes under the radar.
Richard Sharp, BBC chair, has requested the BBC board look into any conflict of interest over his current role.
It comes as there have been allegations he tried to help former Prime Minister Boris Johnson secure a huge loan.
It is claimed the loan amount was £800,000 at a time when many Tories and the Daily Mail are blaming the cost of living crisis at those on low wages.
Donated to Tories
It is claimed Sharp landed the loan for Johnson a matter of weeks before he was given the green light for the BBC job by Johnson, then PM.
Sharp, who has in the past donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Conservative party, is coming under pressure over the deal, with Labour calling for an investigation.
“I was not involved in making a loan, or arranging a guarantee, and I did not arrange any financing,” said Sharp, in an internal email to BBC staff on Monday. “We have many challenges at the BBC, and I know that distractions such as this are not welcomed. Our work at the BBC is rooted in trust. Although the appointment of the BBC chair is solely a matter for the government, I want to ensure that all appropriate guidelines have been followed within the BBC since I have joined.”
In a statement, he apologised to staff, calling the row “a distraction for the organisation, which I regret”.
He said he had never hidden his longstanding relationship with Boris Johnson and insisted he had been appointed fairly to the BBC.
Gabriel Pogrund the exceptional Whitehall Editor for The Sunday Times, has called out Johnson for denying the cliams.
Sky’s Tom Larkin tweeted: “New: Boris Johnson responds for the first time to @Gabriel_Pogrund and @HarryYorke1 scoop. Former PM tells Sky News it’s “absolute nonsense” and “Richard Sharp knows absolutely nothing about my finances.”
To which Pogrund responded: “Wow. This is simply untrue. Richard Sharp has ***publicly acknowledged*** that he introduced Sam Blyth to Simon Case, the nation’s top official, to discuss the loan! He met Case in person to discuss PM’s finances. Cab Office formally told Johnson: stop seeking Sharp’s advice.”
He then followed up to Sharp claiming the row is a distraction.
Pogrund tweeted: “Sharp says he will publish findings of the review Q is whether he publishes evidence he gives — about a) his dinner with Blyth, b) his dinner with Blyth/Johnson at Chequers and c) as @HarryYorke1 says, why he was required to introduce PM’s cousin to Case.”
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