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LABOUR demanded today that former Tory official Sir Robbie Gibb resign from the BBC amid allegations that he tried to block a key appointment on political grounds.
Sir Robbie, who was head of communications for Theresa May during her time as prime minister before becoming a non-executive director at the corporation in May, reportedly attempted to prevent former HuffPost Britain editor Jess Brammar landing a senior BBC editorial role.
This was allegedly for political reasons, as Sir Robbie felt that Ms Brammar’s appointment would damage Tory ministers’ trust in the broadcaster, the Financial Times reported.
In response, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner wrote to BBC chairman Richard Sharp and director-general Tim Davie to call for Sir Robbie’s resignation from the BBC board.
The allegations go to the “core of both operational and governance matters for the BBC,” Ms Rayner wrote.
“Putting pressure on the recruitment process of staff is entirely outside of the remit of the board and a total abuse of position.
“Non-executive directors are supposed to be committed to delivering the mission of the BBC, not wielding political influence or lobbying on behalf of the government.”
Ms Rayner also called for the release of minutes and other correspondence relating to Sir Robbie’s appointment and for an explanation of whether his links to the Tories had been properly considered.
Sir Robbie is yet to comment publicly, but a BBC spokesperson claimed that no appointments had been blocked.
“The responsibility for staff appointments rests with the executive, not the BBC board. Board members are able to discuss issues with other board members [and] senior executives.
“What individual board members can’t do is make decisions which are for the executive. That hasn’t happened. Good governance principles were adhered to.”
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