Richard Sharp has resigned as BBC chairman after a report found that he broke rules over dealings with Boris Johnson ahead of his appointment.
Adam Heppinstall KC’s review said Sharp created the appearance of a conflict of interest by failing to disclose the role he played in helping former the former Prime Minister to secure an £800,000 loan.
Sharp, a former Goldman Sachs banker and Conservative Party donor, was made chairman in 2021.
The probe was set up after reports in the Sunday Times revealed that Sharp played a role in facilitating the £800,000 pound loan for Johnson before he was named chairman.
Sharp has maintained he was not involved in making the loan or in arranging a guarantee or any financing, and that he did no more than seek to introduce Canadian businessman Sam Blyth to a government official in late 2020.
The report found that, while he had breached the government’s code for public appointments, that breach did not necessarily invalidate his appointment.
The report found “there is a risk of a perception that Mr Sharp was recommended for appointment” because he sought to assist the PM in a private financial matter “and/or that he influenced the former prime minister to recommend him by informing him of his application before he submitted it”.
In a statement, Sharp said: “Mr Heppinstall’s view is that while I did breach the governance code for public appointments, he states very clearly that a breach does not necessarily invalidate an appointment. Indeed, I have always maintained the breach was inadvertent and not material, which the facts he lays out substantiate.”
However, Sharp added that he had nevertheless “decided that it is right to prioritise the interests of the BBC. I feel that this matter may well be a distraction from the Corporation’s good work were I to remain in post until the end of my term. I have therefore this morning resigned as BBC Chair to the Secretary of State, and to the Board.”
Read more 5 minutes with… BBC R&D