Labor is calling for an inquiry after claims the BBC chairman helped Boris Johnson arrange a loan guarantee of up to £800,000 a week before he was recommended for the job by the then Prime Minister.
The party wrote to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Daniel Greenberg following 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 difficulties in late 2020.
According to the newspaper, Sharp introduced Canadian businessman Sam Blyth to the cabinet secretary of the multi-millionaire, who offered to guarantor a loan for the then prime minister.
The Sunday Times said Mr Johnson, Mr Sharp and Mr Blyth dined at Checkers before the loan was finalized, although they denied that the prime minister’s finances had been discussed.
Sharp, a former Goldman Sachs banker, was selected by the government for the BBC post in January 2021.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman dismissed the report as “junk” and insisted that his financial arrangements “have been properly declared”.
“Richard Sharp never gave Boris Johnson any financial advice, nor did Mr Johnson seek any financial advice from him,” the spokesman said.
Of Mr Johnson’s private dinner with Mr Sharp, an old friend, and Mr Blyth, who is a distant relative, the spokesman said: “So what? A big deal”.
Mr Sharp told The Sunday Times: “There is no conflict when I simply connected, at his request, Mr Blyth to the Cabinet Secretary and had no further involvement.”
A spokesperson for the BBC said: “The BBC has no role in the selection of the chairman and any questions are up to the government.”
In a letter to Mr Greenberg, Labor leader Anneliese Dodds called for an “urgent investigation”, citing the MPs’ code of conduct which states that “public office holders should not impose any financial or other obligations on themselves to outside persons or organizations that may influence them in the performance of their official duties.
She told the standards commissioner she was concerned Mr Johnson “may have breached this section by asking a person to facilitate a loan guarantee that he will later appoint to a higher public role.”
“The lack of transparency around this, like the issue raised around Mr Blyth, may give the impression that this was a quid pro quo deal,” she added.
It comes after Labor demanded a probe earlier this week into reports that Mr Johnson had used Mr Blyth, reportedly worth $50m, to act as guarantor for an £800,000 loan.
Ms Dodds expressed concern that any alleged agreement had not been properly declared.
She said: “The financial affairs of this disgraced former prime minister are getting increasingly muddy, dragging the Conservative Party deeper into yet another quagmire.
“Serious questions need to be asked of Johnson: why was this money never pledged and what exactly did he promise to these very generous friends in return for such generous loans?”