The new chairman of the BBC donated tens of thousands of pounds to organisations advocating for the privatisation of the BBC, according to Byline Times reports.
Richard Sharp gave money through his personal charity to the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) think tank, which funded analysis critical of the BBC’s coverage of Brexit as well as groups that have been critical of the national broadcaster.
The IPR has given money to News-Watch, which produces content almost exclusively targeted at the BBC, as well as the Centre for Policy Studies and the TaxPayers’ Alliance – the latter of which campaigns for tax cuts and rails against “wasteful” government spending.
In January 2018, News-Watch published ‘The Brussels Broadcasting Corporation’ which was heavily critical of the BBC – one of many publications and articles it published that year criticising the corporation.
Sharp’s personal charity – the Sharp Foundation – donated to the IPR in the same year when the think tank gave £30,000 to News-Watch.
The group has also claimed that the BBC has a “skewed agenda” on climate change as well as alleging that it is highly partial and sat on the left of politics.
“Fall on his sword”
Sharp has been facing growing calls to “fall on his sword” and resign as BBC chairman over the cronyism row caused by him helping Boris Johnson secure an £800,000 loan facility.
Rishi Sunak was standing by the embattled former banker despite a highly-critical cross-party report by MPs finding Sharp chairman made “significant errors of judgment”.
Veteran broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby warned that Sharp acting as a go-between shortly before being put forward for the role was causing a “great deal of damage for the BBC”.
He told BBC Newsnight: “I have no doubt he is an honourable man, no reason do I have to doubt that.
“But what he should do honourably is to fall on his sword and say’ in the interest of the BBC which I care about I don’t want this to go on and on and on, I shall stand aside’.”
Former journalist Baroness Wheatcroft, who sits on the Lords Communications and Digital Committee, added her voice to the demands for Sharp to resign from the “plum job”.
“Mr Sharp may be a very honourable man but there’s no getting away from the fact he helped to organise an £800,000 loan that would get the prime minister out of financial trouble, he did him a favour just when he wanted the prime minister to give him the top job at the BBC,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“Even if Mr Sharp behaved absolutely correctly, it doesn’t look right, it doesn’t smell right, and it doesn’t feel right for the BBC to have a chairman who is now being questioned about his judgment.
“What the BBC needs in a chairman is impeccable judgment.”
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