BBC chairman Richard Sharpe has repeatedly declared his relationship with former prime minister Boris Johnson, saying, “I have never given financial advice to Boris Johnson and know nothing about his affairs.” Sharpe also revealed that he had been working at Johnson’s Downing Street home before applying for the role of BBC chair.
Sharp has been repeatedly pressed by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMSC) over the way he is said to have helped facilitate a loan of around £800,000 ($960,000) for Johnson through their mutual associate Sam Blythe, who is Johnson. A distant cousin and old friend of Sharpe’s. Reports emerged late last month that Sharp had helped facilitate the debt just before his appointment as BBC chair. Blyth is acting as the guarantor of the loan.
Under severe cross-examination this morning, he vehemently denied that he had done anything other than hook Johnson up with Blyth after Blyth’s request at a private dinner. Sharpe soon told this to Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, he said on several occasions today.
The Sunday Times It is reported that a memo from Case to Johnson told Johnson to stop taking Sharpe’s financial advice but Sharpe denied knowing anything about the former prime minister’s finances and insisted he had not given advice.
“It’s a vague construction,” says Memorable Sharpe. “I never gave financial advice to Mr. Johnson. I don’t know anything about him [financial] The point was to defend my position and protect her.
He added that the memo “may have referred to an attempt to prevent me from getting a call from the Prime Minister” – the man who rubberstamped the BBC chair appointment.
He was also pressed at a private dinner a few months later with Blythe and Johnson at Johnson’s residence in Chequers – once he had been appointed chair – and told that funding was not forthcoming. At this point, he said he lobbied Johnson to ensure the BBC got a good license fee settlement.
Blythe referred to Johnson by his old family nickname of ‘Al’, Sharpe said, while Sharpe called him ‘Boris’.
The brouhaha was taking place in the summer of 2020 and Sharpe was appointed BBC chairman soon after.
At the time he was applying to become BBC chair, committee chairman Damian Green questioned why Sharp had not told Blyth “since you are applying for this job which the prime minister will appoint, you cannot be involved.”
Sharpe was repeatedly criticized this morning for failing to disclose his meeting with Blythe and for arranging Blythe’s meeting with Johnson over the loan.
He was appointed by the government and the appointment was contingent on him disclosing anything that might embarrass or discredit the corporation.
Sharpe defended himself by saying he “clearly addressed the issue of my candidacy” during a meeting with Cabinet Secretary Case, at which point he recused himself from the matter.
“Speaks to [Case] I was talking to the most senior civil servant in the country,” Sharp said. He was forced to repeat this point several times under questioning from the committee this morning and emphasized the “open declaration” nature of the case.
Downing Street residence
Sharpe, a former Goldman Sachs banker and former adviser to current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, also revealed that he was working at Johnson’s Downing Street home shortly before he applied to become BBC chair.
He advised on the government’s Film and TV Production Restart Scheme and the Cultural Restoration Fund and said it gave him the media experience that friends told him to apply for the role of chair.
“It was clear to me that I had to do most of the work [in Downing Street] Done and I was interested in submitting an application [to the BBC]Sharpe said.