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Monday 20 March 2023 Dublin: 14°C
# Investigation
BBC chairman set to be grilled by UK MPs amid questions over Boris Johnson loan
BBC chairman Richard Sharp has said that he believed his selection process was conducted ‘by the book’.

BBC CHAIRMAN RICHARD Sharp will be grilled by UK MPs next month, following the disclosure that he helped then prime minister Boris Johnson to secure a loan of up to £800,000 (€906k).

Sharp has said that he believed his selection process was conducted “by the book” and denied he had misled the advisory panel or MPs on the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee when he appeared before them.

The BBC chairman will appear again before the same committee on 7 February to face questions, with acting chairman Damian Green writing to Sharp on today to invite him to attend.

The former banker has been facing calls to stand down after it emerged that in late 2020 he had introduced his friend Sam Blyth to the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to discuss whether Blyth could act as a guarantor for a loan facility for Mr Johnson.

But he insisted he would remain in place and was confident he was given the job on merit.

bbc-sign-new-broadcasting-house-london-england-uk Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

In a brief letter to the BBC chairman, Green said he was being asked to appear “following the recent media reports regarding your appointment”.

“The Committee intends to cover the issues raised in your pre-appointment hearing and any developments since then.”

Yesterday, public appointments commissioner William Shawcross announced he is to investigate Sharp’s appointment as BBC chairman in February 2021 to ensure the process was conducted “fairly, openly and on merit”.

Asked if he should stand down while the investigation is carried out,  Sharp said: “No, I’m confident that he will determine that I was appointed on merit.

“That’s obviously for him to conduct that investigation and process.”

The appointment was a “highly rigorous process” with “very tough interviews”, he said.

In an interview with BBC News, Sharp said he was “comfortable” with the way the process had been carried out.

“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,” he said.

“I had clarified and agreed with the Cabinet Secretary, both of us had the judgment that I’d avoided a conflict or a perception of conflict.”

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