SNP MP John Nicolson, scourge of (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries, wanted to talk about Sharp’s appointment, especially after the latter had asserted that he secured the post on merit. “You previously applied for a job on the BBC board” punted Nicolson. Sharp confirmed “I applied to be a non executive … on the management board … and I didn’t … get an interview”.
So Nicolson came back. “What do you think the difference was between your failed application then, and your application now, following the huge facility that you helped the Prime Minister with?” Subtle enough? Sharp was, well, sharp in his response. “I did not help the Prime Minister with the huge facility”.
Unfortunately, his own testimony rather undermines that assertion. “Mr Blyth is a personal friend of mine, who I’ve known for some time. As a result of press reports that he had read in September, he raised with me at that time his concern that his cousin, the Prime Minister, was reported in these press reports to have some difficulties. Mr Blyth raised [with] me the fact that he was interested in feeling … about whether he should do something to help”.
There was more. “He raised that with me at a private dinner at his house. I said to him at that time ‘you may be a family member, but you need to be very careful. Things need to be done by the book. There are rules in this country, and these rules exist for a good reason’”. So let’s see what Bozo said about Sharp, and why the former PM has been caught lying once more.
“Richard Sharp is a good and a wise man, but, you know, he [knows] absolutely nothing about my personal finances, I can tell you that for 100% ding dang sure”. Bozo pants on fire. Again. But back to Sharp, who went to see Cabinet Secretary Simon Case about Blyth’s proposal. Kevin Brennan, who represents Cardiff West, was interested in the chronology of that.
“Before you went to see Simon Case about this matter, [am I] right in saying you went to see the Prime Minister to tell him you were going to see Simon Case?” Sharp confirmed that. “Yes, I had a meeting with the Prime Minister and I told him”. Brennan was yet more interested. “What did you tell the Prime Minister you were going to meet Simon Case about?” What say Sharp?
“I told him that Mr Blyth wanted to support him. I told him that I’d advised Mr Blyth … that there are rules in this country, and therefore as a result of that, he should be in touch with the Cabinet Office, and as a result of that, I was going to do so … I definitely informed the Prime Minister”.
Brennan pressed a little more. “Approached you to lend him money to support his lifestyle?” Back to Sharp. “Well I informed, yes I informed the Prime Minister that Mr Blyth wanted to meet the Cabinet Secretary to see whether he could help the Prime Minister”. The key word there is YES.
So Brennan put it back to Sharp “The implication of that is whether he could help him financially [Sharp agreed with this interpretation] … so although you didn’t offer direct financial advice to the Prime Minister, the point you were making earlier on, you did inform the Prime Minister before you met the Cabinet Secretary that there was someone who had approached you, who was a member of his family, who wanted to help him financially. So in effect, without giving financial advice, you had discussed his finances, or rather, that someone wanted to help him with his finances, with the Prime Minister”.
Sharp confirmed that that was correct. Former BBC Panorama man John Sweeney had seen and heard enough. “BBC Chair Richard Sharp is compromised. The essential fairness of the BBC is critical to trust. Setting up a bung for Boris and not telling the public about it breaches that trust, big time. Sharp must resign”. This looks bad. Because it is bad. Very bad.
As to Sharp’s defence, Byline Times political editor Adam Bienkov explained it thus: “‘I did not arrange a loan’ for Boris Johnson, says BBC Chairman Richard Sharp, who helped to arrange a loan for Boris Johnson”. He did not arrange the loan, but he was rather adjacent to the whole business.
Richard Sharp may not want to resign. But now … he has to resign.
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