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Johnson Was Cautioned About Richard Sharp Lending Advice

Richard Sharp

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Following a claim that the then-prime minister was instructed to stop seeking Mr. Sharp’s financial guidance, the links between Boris Johnson and BBC chairman Richard Sharp are under renewed examination.

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Mr. Sharp’s nomination is under review due to allegations that he assisted Mr. Johnson in securing a loan before his employment. Both men disputed the allegations.

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The Sunday Times reported that a leaked document from Cabinet Secretary Simon Case cautions Mr. Johnson to “never longer” seek his guidance.

Mr. Sharp has stated that he only introduced a friend who wanted to guarantee a loan for Mr. Johnson to the head of the Civil Service and was not involved in negotiating a loan or providing financial advice. According to BBC News, Mr. Sharp’s opinion has not altered.

Mr. Sharp and Mr. Johnson have independently said that they did not engage in any conflict of interest.

In response to a recent revelation from the Sunday Times, a spokeswoman for Mr. Johnson stated to the BBC that he had never sought or received financial advice from Mr. Sharp.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove stated that it was preferable to “wait until we have all the facts before reaching a judgment.”

He told the Sophy Ridge on Sunday program on Sky News:

“I am aware of this and have witnessed it in the past: there is a letter here, a message there, and a comment there. It leads to a single conclusion. When all the facts is considered, it is actually possible to reach a different judgment.”

The appointment of Mr. Sharp will be investigated by both the public appointments commissioner and an internal panel. MPs have also requested that he come before the select committee of the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport.

Opposition parties have also attacked the Conservative government over the choice of Mr. Sharp, whose job as BBC chairman is to maintain the broadcaster’s independence.

Richard Sharp has previously admitted that he approached Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, the highest-ranking civil worker, in late 2020 to discuss a financial help offer for Mr. Johnson.

This offer came from his wealthy Canadian friend Sam Blyth, who was also Mr. Johnson’s distant cousin.

Richard Sharp, who was a government consultant at the time, has stated that his connection with the credit facility terminated at this point.

According to the Sunday Times, Mr. Case allegedly submitted a document alerting Mr. Johnson on December 22, 2020 – around two weeks before his administration announced Mr. Sharp’s selection as the new BBC head.

Mr. Johnson reportedly secured his £800,000 loan the following month

According to reports, he was informed he could obtain the loan without revealing it so long as his guarantor, Mr. Blyth, had no “business or personal interests in the United Kingdom” beyond his familial links.

The Sunday Times stated that Mr. Blyth was on a government-recommended list of applicants for the British Council without senior officials in the public organization being aware of his relationship with Mr. Johnson.

Mr. Blyth told the newspaper that his name was proposed by others, he never officially decided to apply, and he ultimately ruled himself out of contention.

The spokesman for Mr. Johnson told the BBC that he and his colleagues were unaware that Sam Blyth was being considered for a position with the British Council.

Mr. Sharp emphasized that he felt “comfortable” with how his appointment was carried out after the initial doubts were raised.

He stated that his conversation with Mr. Case had focused on avoiding conflicts of interest and ensuring that the proper procedure was followed “absolutely by the book.”

However, in an email issued to BBC employees, he apologized and stated that the dispute had become a “distraction.”

A Cabinet Office representative declined to comment on the Sunday Times-reported memo, of which the BBC has not seen a copy.

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