BBC Chairman Sharp made serious error by not disclosing loan to PM Johnson, MPs say

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BBC Chairman Richard Sharp made “significant errors of judgment” in failing to disclose his role in a loan to former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, risking public trust in the British news organization, a Parliament committee said.

Sharp, a former partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., was questioned by the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport committee this month over his involvement in helping arrange an $964,960 (£800,000) loan for Johnson, who was prime minister at the time Sharp was applying for his position to lead the national broadcaster.

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In a report released on Sunday, the committee called on Sharp to consider the impact his actions will have on the trust in him, the BBC and the public appointment process. The committee had also questioned Sharp in January 2021 about whether he should get the BBC chairman’s job.

“Such a significant error of judgment meant we were not in the full possession of the facts when we were required to rule on his suitability for the role of BBC Chair,” said Damian Green, acting chair of the DCMS committee.

Sharp, is a prominent Conservative Party donor who has given £400,000 to the Tories. While he was appointed during Johnson premiership, he also has ties to the current prime minister, Rishi Sunak, who briefly worked at Goldman Sachs at the same time as Sharp.

Sharp told the committee on February 7 that he acted “in good faith” and was just the “go between for the loan.” He did not offer financial advice to Johnson but regretted the distraction caused by the matter to the BBC, he said on Tuesday.

By not recusing himself from involvement in the loan or disclosing it to officials, the committee was left without the full facts needed to fully scrutinize his appropriateness as a candidate, the report said.

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