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by Lamiat Sabin
A TORY donor and former Goldman Sachs banker has been appointed as the new chairman of the BBC, it was announced today.
Richard Sharp will succeed Sir David Clementi, the broadcaster has said.
He was once Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s boss at Goldman Sachs, where he worked for over 20 years and has donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Conservative Party.
Private Eye magazine had reported that Mr Sharp had donated almost half a million pounds to the Tories between 2001 and 2010.
He has donated £4,600 since then, according to the Guardian.
During the pandemic, he was an unpaid adviser to Mr Sunak on loans for businesses that have been affected by lockdowns and restrictions.
He is also listed as a board member of Centre for Policy Studies, according to the conservative think tank’s website.
Mr Sharp will take over from Sir David in February. He has not yet commented on his appointment, which grants him a salary of £160,000 for “three/four days a week.”
Unite’s assistant general secretary for politics and legal Howard Beckett criticised the decision to hire “Rishi Sunak’s ex-boss.”
He added: “Clearly no point in even a pretence of BBC independence any longer.
“The Establishment controls mainstream media. Time to back alternative media.”
Sharp’s appointment comes amid a debate about the BBC licence fee and how the broadcaster is facing competition from streaming services.
The new chairman will work closely with new director-general Tim Davie, who is the former chief executive of the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Studios.
Mr Davie took over from Lord Tony Hall in September and said that the corporation needs to keep reforming “with urgency” and stressed it must be “a universal public service.”
The broadcaster currently faces scrutiny over equal pay, diversity, free TV licences for the over-75s and competition from streaming services such as Netflix, as well as the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
National Union of Journalists (NUJ) national broadcasting organiser Paul Siegert said: “Richard Sharp will become the chair of the BBC while the corporation faces the real challenge of producing quality news and current affairs at the same time as being in the process of losing 2,000 journalists.
“We hope that he will become a champion of the BBC’s values and argue robustly for sound financing for the future.
“Let’s hope he can use his friendship with the Chancellor to the good of the BBC, its staff and listeners and viewers.
“The NUJ welcomes him to the role and looks forward to having a constructive relationship with him.”
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