Labor is calling for an investigation after claims the BBC chairman helped Boris Johnson arrange a guarantee on a loan of up to £800,000 weeks before the then-prime minister recommended him for the post.
The party has written to parliamentary standards commissioner Daniel Greenberg following a report in the Sunday Times that Conservative donor Richard Sharp was involved in talks over funding Johnson when he ran into financial difficulties in late 2020.
Sharp introduced billionaire Canadian businessman Sam Blyth, who had proposed acting as the then-prime minister’s guarantor for a line of credit, to the cabinet secretary, according to the newspaper.
The Sunday Times said that Johnson, Sharp and Blyth later dined at Checkers before the loan was completed, although they denied that the prime minister’s finances were discussed.
Sharp, a former Goldman Sachs banker, was announced as the government’s pick for the BBC job in January 2021.
A Johnson spokesman dismissed the report as “garbage” and insisted that his financial arrangements “have been duly disclosed.”
“Richard Sharp has never given any financial advice to Boris Johnson, nor has Mr Johnson sought any financial advice from him,” the spokesperson said.
Of Johnson’s private dinner with Sharp, an old friend, and Blyth, who is a distant relative, the spokesman said: “So what? What a thing.”
Sharp told the Sunday Times: “There is no conflict when I simply connected, at his request, Mr Blyth with the cabinet secretary and had no further involvement.”
A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC plays no role in the hiring of the president and any questions are a government matter.”
In the letter to Greenberg, Labor Party Chair Anneliese Dodds called for an “urgent investigation” and cited the code of conduct for MPs which states that “public office holders should not assume any financial or other obligation to outside persons or organizations that may influence them in the performance of their official duties”.
He told the standards commissioner that he was concerned that Johnson “may have violated this section by asking a person to provide a guarantee on a loan whom he would later appoint to a high-level public office.”
“The lack of transparency in this regard, such as the issue raised around Mr. Blyth, can give the impression that it was a quid pro quo deal,” he added.
It comes after Labor demanded an investigation earlier this week into reports that Johnson used Blyth, who is reportedly worth $50m (£40m), to act as guarantor for a £50m credit line. 800,000.
Dodds expressed concern that none of the alleged arrangements have been stated correctly.
She said: “The financial affairs of this disgraced former prime minister continue to turn murkier, dragging the Conservative Party deeper into another quagmire of sleaze.
“Serious questions must be asked of Johnson: why was this money never disclosed and what exactly did he promise these very generous friends in exchange for such generous loans?”