BBC chief resigns amid scandal over role in Boris Johnson loan


The BBC chairman resigned on Friday after a report found he failed to disclose a potential conflict of interest over his role in arranging a 2021 loan for Boris Johnson, who was UK prime minister at the time.

The publicly funded national broadcaster has come under political pressure after it was revealed that Richard Sharp helped arrange the credit line weeks before he was appointed to the BBC post on the government’s recommendation.

The 800,000 pound ($1 million) line of credit came from wealthy Canadian businessman Sam Blyth, who was introduced to Johnson by Sharp, a Conservative Party donor. Johnson was the leader of the party and the British Prime Minister.

Sharp said he would resign to «put the interests of the BBC first» after committing an «inadvertent» breach of the rules.

“I feel that this matter could well be a distraction from the good work of the corporation if I were to remain in office until the end of my term,” he said.

Sharp said he would remain in his BBC post until the end of June while a successor is sought.

A report into the incident by lead attorney Adam Heppinstall released on Friday found that Sharp «failed to disclose potential perceived conflicts of interest.»

The investigation is the latest embarrassing episode for the 100-year-old BBC, which is funded by a license fee paid by every household with a television and has a duty to be impartial in its news coverage.

The public broadcaster is frequently a political football, with some members of the Conservative government seeing a left-wing bias in his news output and some Liberals accusing him of having a Conservative bias.

The BBC was caught in a firestorm over free speech and political bias in March when its top sports presenter, former England soccer player Gary Lineker, criticized the government’s immigration policy on social media.

Lineker was suspended and then reinstated after other Premier League sports presenters, analysts and players boycotted the BBC airwaves in solidarity.

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