London (CNN) embattled head British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Richard Sharp resigned on Friday after a report found he had failed to disclose his involvement in facilitating a nearly $1 million loan for former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Sharp claimed the breach was “inadvertent rather than material”, but said he was resigning “to prioritize the interests of the BBC.” He had previously denied being involved in the arrangement, or having a conflict of interest because the loan occurred prior to his appointment as President of Public Broadcasting.
But Adam Hepstill’s report found that Sharp “failed to disclose perceived potential conflicts of interest” to a multi-party panel of MPs who advised ministers on whom to appoint.
“There may have been a perceived risk that Sharp would not be independent of the former Prime Minister, if appointed,” the report said.
“These non-disclosures caused a breach of the Governance Code as the Committee was not able at the time to advise ministers on these matters.”
The former banker came under pressure to resign after he was said to have acted as an intermediary when Johnson was looking to secure the loan, weeks before then-Prime Minister Sharpe was appointed to office in 2021. Sharpe told lawmakers in February that he had “never” arranged the loan,” noting that he acted as “a kind of rendering agency”.
The BBC, which is funded by a £159 ($193) license fee paid annually by every household that owns a TV or watches streaming content, was plunged into controversy this year after it suspended star football presenter Gary Lineker for criticizing government immigration policy.
Lineker likened a controversial new law aimed at stopping illegal immigrants from entering the country on small ships, and its laden slogan “Stop the Boats”, to the language used in Germany in the 1930s – a comparison that prompted an angry response from parts of the British right. – The media wing and a number of lawmakers in the ruling Conservative Party.
The former England football captain was later reinstated after fellow broadcasters refused to go on the air without him, and the company has announced a review of what freelancers outside its news arm (such as Lineker) can and cannot say on social media.
Lindsey Isaacs contributed to this report.
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