BBC chairman quits in fresh impartiality breach

STORY: The BBC's chairman resigned on Friday (April 28) after an independent report into his links to a loan obtained for former Prime Minister Boris Johnson - a fresh embarrassment for Britain's public broadcaster, which is required to be neutral.

Richard Sharp helped secure a $1 million loan for Johnson but didn't declare the potential conflict of interest when he stood for the job.

His exit comes at a time of heightened political scrutiny of the BBC. A spat with top presenter Gary Lineker over impartiality dominated British headlines last month.

Lineker - a former England soccer captain - was temporarily suspended, to uproar from his colleagues. He'd criticized the government's immigration policy.

Sharp, a former banker who took the helm in 2021, came under pressure in February, when a committee of lawmakers said he'd made "significant errors of judgment."

"I've always maintained the breach was inadvertent and not material, which the facts he lays out substantiate. The Secretary of State has consulted with the BBC board who support that view. Nevertheless, I have decided that it is right to prioritise the interest of the BBC. I feel that this matter may well be a distraction from the corporation's good work, were I to remain in post until the end of my term."

Sharp says he was not involved in making the loan and did no more than seek to introduce Canadian businessman Sam Blyth to a government official in late 2020.

The report mentions that Johnson's Downing Street office recommended Sharp as "a strong candidate" for the BBC role.

The opposition Labour Party's culture spokesperson Lucy Powell said the breach caused "untold damage" to the reputation of the BBC and undermined its independence.