Sharpening the Axe
Richard Sharp's continued presence as BBC Chairman, following the Boris Johnson loan scandal, is destroying the corporation's reputation from within
As I reported for Byline Times today, BBC Chairman Richard Sharp’s appearance in front of MPs this morning was remarkable on a number of levels.
Devoid of any contrition for his previously undeclared role in helping secure a £800,000 loan for Boris Johnson, Sharp instead insisted that his actions had been an example of good government and due process.
As I later explained to James O’Brien on LBC, this is the complete opposite of the truth. Far from being a model for how public officials should act, the Sharp saga is almost the definition of how cronyism corrupts public life in the UK.
Not only was it improper for Sharp to get involved in Johnson’s financial affairs, but his failure to publicly declare the arrangement when he was appointed to the BBC, would in any other respectable organisation, be sufficient grounds for his removal.
The truth is that as a former aide to Johnson and major Conservative donor, Sharp should never have been in the running for a role at the BBC in the first place.
The fact that he was not only in the running, but personally installed by the Prime Minister himself, at the same time as helping fix his personal finances, tells us everything we need to know about how the political and media establishment really works in the UK.
The row has understandably angered many BBC journalists, who are already under constant fire over perceived breaches of impartiality.
Yet with Sharp apparently determined to stay in place, the row risks causing lasting damage to the UK’s national broadcaster.
So what’s really going on here and is Sharp’s position at the corporation really tenable?