Exclusive Omnisis poll finds public believes Richard Sharp should now quit over the loan scandal involving Boris Johnson, as a committee of MPs urge him to “reflect” on his position
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A majority of voters believe that the BBC’s Chairman, Richard Sharp, should resign following revelations about his role in helping to arrange a huge loan for former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
58% of the British public believe he should resign as Chairman, compared to just 18% who said he should remain in post, according to the exclusive Omnisis poll for Byline Times
The findings come as a committee of MPs release a damning report into Sharp’s actions, which accuses him of “significant errors of judgement” by failing to declare his involvement in securing an £800,000 loan for Johnson via his Canadian multi-millionaire friend Sam Blyth.
Sharp’s involvement in helping to arrange the loan took place at the time as he was then applying to Downing Street for his position at the BBC.
In their report released today, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee call on Sharp to “reflect” on how his actions have undermined public trust in the BBC and the appointments process.
“Richard Sharp’s decisions, firstly to become involved in the facilitation of a loan to the then Prime Minister while at the same time applying for a job that was in that same person’s gift, and then to fail to disclose this material relationship, were significant errors of judgement” the committee state.
They add that Sharp “should reflect on the potential damage caused to trust in the corporation.”
Sharp, who has previously donated £400,000 to the Conservative Party and been an advisor to both Johnson and Rishi Sunak, insisted to MPs this week that he had done nothing wrong and had only followed “due process”.
However, the scandal has raised broader questions about the influence of cronyism in the appointment of senior figures to national institutions and government bodies.
Sharp, who is a former banker, was handed the position by Johnson’s Government despite having no prior experience in broadcasting.
The revelation that he secured the position at the BBC at the same time that he was helping Johnson secure his loan, has led to allegations that he was the beneficiary of personal favours from the then Prime Minister.
Such suspicions appear to be widespread among the public, according to the new poll.
Omnisis found that most voters believe that such personal connections are generally a more important factor in how such roles are appointed, in the UK, than personal merit.
68% said that roles at national UK institutions are generally awarded through candidates “knowing the right people” rather than being given them “on merit”.
This compares to just 12% who said they believe that personal merit is generally the deciding factor.
In their report today, MPs warn that the way Sharp was appointed could “deter qualified individuals from applying for such posts” in future.
In a statement, the Committee’s Acting Chair Damian Green MP said: “The public appointments process can only work effectively if everyone is open and transparent, yet Richard Sharp chose not to tell either the appointment panel or our Committee about his involvement in the facilitation of a loan to Boris Johnson. Such a significant error of judgment meant we were not in the full possession of the facts when we were required to rule on his suitability for the role of BBC Chair.”
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