Saturday, 28 Nov 2020

BBC chairman candidate donated nearly £500k to Conservative Party

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Richard Sharp is in line for the coveted £160,000-a-year post. He worked as an economic adviser to Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London. Mr Sharp also managed current Chancellor Rishi Sunak when they both worked at Goldman Sachs.

The Electoral Commission website also shows Mr Sharp donated £416,189,10 to the Conservative Party.

Out of this, £414,099.10 was a cash payment, while £2,090 was non-cash, according to the website.

Mr Sharp, who received an OBE in 1986, first donated in May 2001 and his most recent was on November 14 last year.

It has been reported a new chairman with ties to the Conservative Party could be beneficial to new director-general, Tim Davie, ahead of the post-2022 licence fee settlement negotiations.

Mr Sharp would be a “tough friend” to the BBC if he was selected for the role, according to people who have worked with him.

He spent eight years working at JP Morgan before moving to Goldman.

The 64-year-old was also chairman of the Royal Academy of the Arts trust for several years.

A television insider told The Times: “He was very engaged, very effective, very responsive.

“He understood the huge value of TV and film production to the UK.”

Whitehall sources claimed he was influential in the Treasury securing a big rescue package for arts and heritage organisations back in July.

Industry figures have also praised his work on the film and television production restart scheme.

This was set up by the Government to help with the cost of productions that could be halted by a second lockdown.

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His candidacy comes after the Cabinet Office launched a campaign for formal applications last Wednesday.

It said: “We are looking for an outstanding individual with demonstrable leadership skills and a passion for the media and public broadcasting, to represent the public interest in the BBC and maintain the Corporation’s independence.

“Candidates should be aware that the preferred candidate for the post of Chair will be required to appear before a Parliamentary Select Committee prior to appointment.”

Current chairman Sir David Clementi will step down in February.

He also worked in London City before taking up the role.

Applications close in mid-November, with interviews expected during the first week of December.

Other candidates include Sir Robbie Gibb, who is a former BBC politics executive who later became Number 10 communications chief, as well as the former Tory culture secretary Baroness Morgan of Cotes.

The final decision will be made by the culture secretary Oliver Dowden, with the approval of Number 10.

BBC declined to comment when contacted by Express.co.uk.

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