Richard Sharp’s resignation statement in full

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Here is the full statement from Richard Sharp over his resignation as BBC chairman:

Good morning.

I would like to thank Adam Heppinstall and his team for the diligence and professionalism they have shown in compiling today’s report.

Mr Heppinstall’s view is that while I did breach the governance code for public appointments, he states that a breach does not necessarily invalidate an appointment.

Indeed, I have 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 interests 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.

I have therefore this morning resigned as BBC Chair to the Secretary of State, and to the Board.

It was proposed to me that I stay on as Chair until the end of June while the process to appoint my successor is undertaken, and I will of course do that in the interests of the Corporation’s stability and continuity.

Let me turn to the events that are the subject of today’s report.

When I sought in December 2020 to introduce the Cabinet Secretary to Mr (Sam) Blyth I did so in good faith. I did so with the best of intentions.

And I did so with the sole purpose of ensuring that all relevant rules were being followed.

I am pleased that Mr Heppinstall supports the fact that my involvement in these matters was accordingly “very limited”.

He states that he is “happy to record” that he has seen no evidence – and nor could he – to say I played any part whatsoever in the facilitation, arrangement, or financing of a loan for the former Prime Minister.

During my conversation with the Cabinet Secretary on December 4, 2020, I reminded him of the fact that I was in the BBC appointments process.

I believed, as a result of that conversation, that I had been removed from any conflict or perception of conflict. I understood this recusal to be absolute.

This was my error. In my subsequent interview with the Appointments Panel I wish, with the benefit of hindsight, this potential perceived conflict of interest was something I had considered to mention.

I would like once again to apologise for that oversight – inadvertent though it was – and for the distraction these events have caused the BBC.

For more than twenty years I have devoted time and energy to public service, whether at the Institute for Cancer Research, at the Royal Academy of Arts, on the financial policy committee of the Bank of England, or as an economic advisor to the Treasury working to protect British business, including the creative industries, during the pandemic.

For more than two years I have seen the beating heart of the BBC up close. And for all its complexities, successes, and occasional failings, the BBC is an incredible, dynamic, and world beating creative force, unmatched anywhere.

As Chair I have acted at all times in the public interest, and for the betterment of the BBC. I am proud to have fought for the recent return of Government funding for the World Service. I have been active in commissioning independent thematic reviews of BBC coverage on touchstone issues.

And I have championed the importance of the BBC as a well-funded and impartial public service broadcaster.

To chair this incredible organisation has been an honour. The BBC’s contribution to our national life is immense, its people are hardworking and brilliant, and preserving and enhancing it matters.

Thank you.

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