New BBC Chairman Richard Sharp has donated £400k to the Conservative Party since 2001

A former Goldman Sachs banker and donor to the Conservative party is to become the next Chairman of the BBC.

Richard Sharp will take over from current BBC Chairman, Sir David Clementi, when he steps down in February, and will lead negotiations with the Government over the future of the licence fee.

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Mr Sharp, a banker by trade who spent 23 years at Goldman Sachs - where he was reportedly the boss and mentor of chancellor Rishi Sunak - sat on the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee for six years, until 2019.

As well as his career in finance, Mr Sharp has been a director of the right-leaning think tank, Centre for Policy Studies, since 2002.

The Centre for Policy Studies has published studies which have been critical of the BBC, called for the licence fee to be scrapped, and accused the service of having a left wing bias.

The Centre for Policy Studies has been consistently ranked as one of the least transparent UK think tanks in terms of its funding, although it has been linked with the tobacco industry.

Conservative Party donor

Mr Sharp’s appointment has attracted criticism from some, who say that his political links call into question his suitability for the role.

Though the role is, in theory, a totally politically neutral one, Mr Sharp does have considerable links to the government and Conservative Party.

He has donated more than £400,000 to the Conservatives since 2001. His latest donation was made in 2019, according to Electoral Commission records.

In order to take up the Chairman position, Mr Sharp will have to end his unpaid role as an economic advisor to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, which he has been carrying out throughout the pandemic.

Have there been other new appointments at the BBC?

Mr Sharp’s appointment comes not long after it was announced that Tim Davie would become the corporation’s director general.

This appointment also sparked controversy, with some pointing to Mr Davie’s historical connections to the Conservative Party.

Mr Davie was the deputy Chairman of a constituency Conservative Party during the 1990s, and stood as a councillor representing the party in 1993 and 1994.