Embattled BBC chairman Richard Sharpe reportedly helped a close friend take on a paid role advising the corporation on its editorial standards.

According to the Sunday Times, Mr Sharp put forward Caroline Daniels, a public relations executive and former FT Weekend editor, in the wake of the Martin Bashir scandal.

She was an usher in her wedding to former Emmerdale actor Christopher Villiers in 2019 – with whom she is also close, reports the paper.

Mr Sharp, who is already facing pressure to resign over the circumstances surrounding his appointment, is said to have introduced Ms Daniels to the BBC’s senior independent director who gave her the job.

The appointment left others feeling “shoehorned” into the role, which paid £15,000 a year for around 15 days’ work, according to the paper.

The former Goldman Sachs banker, 67, then allegedly rubber-stamped his selection for the second spot last June as the corporation’s external editorial adviser without publicly declaring his personal relationship.

According to the Sunday Times, he did not recuse himself from discussions about appointments to the BBC nominations committee, which he chairs, or declare his personal interests to be friendly.

The paper reported that Ms Daniels said the relationship was “fully disclosed to relevant BBC officials at the time” – an account backed up by the corporation – which is believed to include director-general Tim Davey.

“The relationship with Richard Sharpe was fully disclosed to BBC officials at the time, in line with the BBC’s requirements,” she said.

Ms Daniels, 51, was hired to help review editorial standards in the wake of a damning report on Bashir’s Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales in 1995.

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Non-executive directors Sir Robbie Gibb and Ian Hargreaves were among others who supported the review, led by the BBC’s senior independent director Sir Nicholas Serota.

A source close to the Serota review told the paper: “Other people were uncomfortable about their relationship – they felt she was shoe-horning into the review. However, it was helpful from her point of view.”

The BBC created two “editorial advisory” positions for outside experts to provide guidance on journalistic standards as a result of the review.

The report will put further pressure on Mr Sharpe, who has been embroiled in a cronyism controversy in recent months for helping former prime minister Boris Johnson secure an £800,000 loan facility.

An investigation is being launched into the circumstances surrounding his appointment, which was already controversial after he made donations to the Conservative Party.

We are fully satisfied that all process and procedures are fully followed

He faced fresh scrutiny after his position was called into question amid backlash against the BBC’s decision to take sports presenter Gary Lineker off the air for a tweet comparing the language used to launch a new government refugee policy in 1930s Germany.

MPs have already criticized him for actions that “breached the standards expected of people” applying for key public appointments and a cross-party report last month found him to have made “significant errors of judgement”.

The chairman can only be removed from office by the government – not the BBC – and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has repeatedly refused to defend Mr Sharp, citing the ongoing investigation.

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The BBC said it was “fully satisfied” that its procedures were fully followed.

A BBC spokesman said: “Following the completion of the Serota review into editorial process, governance and culture in October 2021 – and in line with the recommendations in the review – the BBC appointed two independent, external editorial experts to provide editorial guidelines and advice to the BBC Board. Standards Committee.

“These roles were formally advertised externally and were open to anyone to apply for. The appointment process was in accordance with BBC rules, overseen by a Nominations Committee, and appointments were approved by the full BBC Board.

“This process clearly set out the independence expectations required for the role, and included full disclosure of any relevant conflicts of interest. We are fully satisfied that all processes and procedures have been fully followed.

Mr Sharp has been contacted for comment.


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