Lord Coe in the frame to head up the BBC trust


Media Editor

After his acclaimed role in co-ordinating the 2012 Olympics, Lord Coe has emerged as a surprise candidate to be the next chairman of the BBC Trust.

The Conservative peer’s apparent interest in the role was revealed by the ITV News political editor Tom Bradby who claimed that Lord Coe’s appointment was “an obvious marriage” between the organiser of the London games and the organisation which successfully broadcast them.

“I have been told this lunchtime by a senior Government source that Sebastian Coe is now the clear frontrunner to be the next Chair of the BBC Trust,” said Bradby. “There are a few hurdles left to clear and obstacles that can be placed in his way, but I am told he is interested and that he enjoys the firm support of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor. Given that this is basically a Number Ten appointment, that should more or less settle it.”

But the suggestion that the former athlete had been anointed caused shock at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport which is just beginning a lengthy appointment process to replace Lord Patten, who retired this month on health grounds. Advertisements for the prestigious role have yet to be published.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson rushed forward to endorse the idea of his Tory colleague succeeding Lord Patten at the head of the BBC’s governing body. “I think it’s fantastic news for the BBC and British broadcasting. Seb Coe is a great leader,” he told ITV. “I’ve worked with him a lot over the last few years and I think he’ll demand very high standards of the BBC but I think he’ll be in exactly the right tradition of British broadcasting. It’s a first rate choice.”

But the Labour MP Jim Sheridan, who sits on the House of Commons select committee on Culture, Media and Sport, warned that the championing of Lord Coe could mean high quality candidates were “deterred from applying”. He said: “I would hope that this whole process would be open and transparent and free from any political bias.”

Bradby indicated that Downing Street wanted a political ally in charge of the Trust ahead of a General Election. “The Prime Minister and the Chancellor… remain suspicious of the BBC generally, both in terms of inherent bias and alleged profligacy. So this appointment was always going to be someone they wholeheartedly approved of, which basically means a politician from the Tory family. Given that, Sebastian Coe is a rather clever choice. The Olympics was an undeniable triumph and the BBC had a significant share in that. It is, you might say, an obvious marriage.”

Lord Coe’s spokesperson described the story as “speculation”.

Steven Barnett, professor in communications at the University of Westminster, said he was “very surprised” by Lord Coe being linked to the role. “The chairman of the BBC Trust is a regulatory job and I don’t see him as a natural regulator. He wouldn’t be running anything, he would be scrutinizing and I’m not sure it’s a role he’d be suited for or would even want.”

Sources at the BBC Trust predicted that “many hats will be thrown into the ring”. Other leading contenders for the job are believed to include Sir Howard Stringer, former head of the Sony Corporation, Marjorie Scardino, the former head of Pearson, and the economist Diane Coyle, who is the Trust’s acting head.

Lord Patten’s appointment was only confirmed after a six month process. After the deadline for applications has passed, a shortlist will be drawn up, with the Government’s preferred candidate scrutinised at a public session of the media select committee.

The whole process is being overseen by Culture Secretary Sajid Javid. A DCMS spokesperson said last night: “An announcement will be made in due course about the appointment process for a successor. The process will be open, transparent and conducted in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointment’s Code of Practice.” 

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

BI Analyst

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency in Central Lo...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little