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BBC Chairman Richard Sharp to resign over Boris Johnson loan

Sharp will remain in the position until June, at which point a successor will be named.

Sharp will remain in the position until June, at which point a successor will be named.

Richard Sharp, the former chairman of the BBC.
Richard Sharp, the former chairman of the BBC. (Photo courtesy BBC, Graphic by The Desk)

The Chairman of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is resigning his position following an investigation into whether he facilitated an improper loan to former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

On Friday, Richard Sharp announced his intention to step down from the role after officials found he had breached certain regulations regarding public appointments when he helped Johnson in connection with the £800,000 (about US $996,000) loan.

Sharp said the issue was “inadvertent and not material,” and further acknowledged his support for the outcome of the probe. His resignation was intended to avoid “a distraction from [the BBC’s] good work,” Sharp said.

Sharp’s resignation will take effect in June, when a successor is expected to be appointed, the BBC reported.

Earlier this year, the Sunday Times newspaper reported Sharp helped connect Johnson with an acquaintance, Sam Blyth, who offered to loan Johnson the money. At the time, Johnson was going through a pricey divorce and his finances were in shambles while he lived at Downing Street, the Guardian said on Friday.

Johnson did accept a loan, which became public knowledge after he left office, but it wasn’t clear if the money he received came from Blyth or were part of Sharp’s efforts.

Lawmakers in the United Kingdom have criticized Sharp’s handling the loan as a lapse in judgment, particularly after he failed to immediately disclose a conflict of interest. He didn’t disclose the loan as a conflict of interest while going through the appointment process to become the chairman of the BBC, a role he clinched in February 2021. The position followed a three-decade career working for financial firms, including JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.

As chairman of the BBC, Sharp was responsible for ensuring the integrity and independence of the United Kingdom’s public broadcaster, which is primarily funded through a tax levied on households that receive live television programming. Sharp was a proponent of increasing the cost of the television license from £160 (about US $220) per year in order to better fund the BBC’s news, entertainment and knowledge programming.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).