Lawyer appointed to investigate BBC chairman Richard Sharp’s appointment

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A lawyer has been appointed to lead the investigation into Richard Sharp’s appointment as BBC chairman after public appointments commissioner William Shawcross recused himself from the probe.

Mr Shawcross announced his withdrawal from the inquiry last week after meeting Mr Sharp “on previous occasions”.

The probe will look into whether the rules were properly followed after reports Mr Sharp helped then-prime minister Boris Johnson secure a loan facility of up to £800,000 shortly before being appointed to the BBC post.

The Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments on Monday said it has appointed Adam Heppinstall KC to oversee its consideration of the public appointment process.

Last Monday, Mr Shawcross said in a letter to the chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee: “As I have met Mr Sharp on previous occasions, I have decided to recuse myself from this particular investigation.

“I will be delegating my powers as commissioner under the 2019 Order in Council to an independent person who will be appointed by my office for this one investigation.

“They will have sole responsibility and will be supported by my officials.”

Mr Shawcross, who was recommended by Mr Johnson in his role as commissioner for public appointments, is also the father of Eleanor Shawcross, head of No 10’s policy unit.

Mr Sharp is due to be grilled by MPs on the DCMS Committee on Tuesday over evidence he gave at a pre-appointment hearing.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson
A spokesman for Boris Johnson said he never sought financial advice from Richard Sharp and Mr Sharp did not give any financial advice to the former prime minister (PA)

Mr Sharp previously said his selection process was done “by the book” and he will remain in place.

A spokesman for the former prime minister said Mr Sharp has “never given any financial advice to Boris Johnson, nor has Mr Johnson sought any financial advice from him”.

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