The Labor Party is calling for an investigation after the BBC chief’s allegations he helped arrange a guarantee for a loan of up to £800,000 to Boris Johnson before he was recommended for the job by the then prime minister.
The party wrote a letter to Parliament’s Standards Commissioner, Daniel Greenberg, after a report in The Sunday Times that Tory donor Richard Sharp was involved in talks to finance Mr Johnson when he found himself in financial difficulty in late 2020.
According to the newspaper, Sharp introduced Sam Blyth, a multi-millionaire Canadian businessman who offered to be the guarantor of the then Prime Minister’s loan facility, to the Cabinet Secretary.
The Sunday Times said Mr Johnson, Mr Sharp and Mr Blyth had dinner at Checkers before the loan was finalized, but denied that the Prime Minister’s finances were discussed.
Mr. Sharp, a former Goldman Sachs banker, was announced in January 2021 as the Government’s choice for the role of BBC.
A spokesperson for Mr Johnson described the report as “ridiculous” and insisted that his financial arrangements were “appropriately declared”.
“Richard Sharp has never given financial advice to Boris Johnson and Mr Johnson has not sought any financial advice from him,” the spokesperson said.
“So what? Big deal,” the spokesperson said of Mr. Johnson’s private dinner with an old friend, Mr. Sharp, and a distant relative, Mr. Blyth.
Mr. Sharp told The Sunday Times: “There is no conflict when, at the request of Mr Blyth, I simply contacted the cabinet secretary and was not involved in any other way.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC does not play any role in hiring the president and any question is a matter of the Government”.
In her letter to Mr Greenberg, Labor leader Anneliese Dodds called for an “urgent investigation”, referring to the lawmakers’ code of conduct that “holders of public office should not impose any financial or other liability on outside persons or entities”. may affect them in the performance of their official duties”.
He told the standards commissioner he was concerned that Mr Johnson “may have violated this section by asking someone to facilitate the guarantee of a loan that he will later be appointed to a senior public office”.
“The lack of transparency, as in the issue raised around Mr Blyth, may give the impression that it was a reciprocal arrangement,” he added.
It comes after Labor requested an investigation earlier this week into reports that Johnson is using Blyth, which is said to be worth $50m, as a guarantor for a £800,000 loan facility.
Ms Dodds expressed her concerns that none of the alleged arrangements were properly disclosed.
He said: “The financial affairs of this disgraced former Prime Minister continue to blur further, dragging the Conservative Party further into yet another swamp of filth.
Serious questions must be asked of Johnson: Why was this money never declared, and what exactly did he promise these very generous friends in exchange for such generous loans?