(London) BBC chairman Richard Sharp announced his resignation on Friday, swept away by a conflict of interest case linked to a boost in the private affairs of ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson shortly before his appointment at the head of the British public audiovisual group.
A report published on Friday found a violation of the rules on public appointments.
Former banker, formerly boss of current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak when he was at Goldman Sachs, Richard Sharp, 67, was appointed in 2021. And this shortly after playing matchmaker to help Boris Johnson, then Prime Minister , to obtain a loan of 800,000 pounds sterling (906,000 euros).
As is customary, it was on the recommendation of the head of the British government that the president of the BBC was appointed.
The report on Friday concluded that by failing to declare his role in securing Boris Johnson’s loan guarantee, Richard Sharp risked giving the impression that he was not independent of the then prime minister.
He also believes that he risked giving the impression of influencing Boris Johnson to obtain his support, by warning him of his candidacy for the presidency of the BBC before formally submitting it.
The report “concludes that I violated the governance code for public appointments,” but that violation “does not necessarily invalidate the appointment,” said Richard Sharp in a statement announcing his resignation.
Claiming an “inadvertent” breach, Richard Sharp argues that he wants to put “the interests of the BBC first”, saying the case could represent a “distraction” from the “good work” of the media giant. British audiovisual.
His resignation will be effective at the end of June.
In a letter to Richard Sharp, Culture Minister Lucy Frazer said she “understands and respects” his decision, thanking him for his work as BBC chairman.
Amid heated controversy after being suspended for comparing government rhetoric to that of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, presenter Gary Lineker said the BBC president should never be chosen by the government. “Not now, not ever,” he tweeted.
This essential institution of the British audiovisual landscape celebrated its centenary in the fall in full doubt, tormented by competition from pay platforms and the threats hanging over its public funding.
The BBC has also come under fire in recent years from the ruling Conservatives, accusing it of biased coverage, including on Brexit, and of being focused on the concerns of urban elites rather than the working classes.
The government – then led by Boris Johnson – froze the fee (£159, or €180 per year) for two years at the start of 2022, as inflation strained household finances. He also mentioned his eventual removal, a controversial threat even in the conservative ranks.
Under budgetary pressure, the group announced in May a plan to make 500 million pounds (586 million euros) in savings per year. A thousand jobs (out of a total of about 22,000 employees) are cut, chains are merged and others go exclusively online.