Tories accused of picking politically partisan shortlist for new BBC Trust chairman

 

Media Editor

Interviews to find the successor to Lord Patten as chair of the BBC Trust begin on Thursday amid deep concerns as to how the process is being conducted by the Government.

The former Conservative MP Lord Coe, who was said to have been Downing Street’s favoured candidate for the role, has ruled himself out of the race but the remaining shortlist is understood to be dominated by Tory supporters and business figures. The Chancellor George Osborne is said to be showing a close interest in the appointment.

Among those believed to be on a list of four or five names is Baroness Patience Wheatcroft, a former editor of the Sunday Telegraph and a Conservative peer, and Baroness Sarah Hogg, who was head of John Major’s policy unit when he was Prime Minister/ Baroness Hogg is the wife of former Tory minister Viscount Hailsham, and sits in the House of Lords as a crossbencher. Also said to be on the short list is Martyn Rose, Chairman of the English National Opera and the chair of David Cameron’s Big Society Network.

Nick Prettejohn, a City grandee and existing trustee of the BBC Trust, is also listed. Mr Prettejohn, a former head of Lloyd’s of London and an Oxford contemporary of William Hague’s, was a trustee of the Royal Opera House when it was run by Tony Hall, current BBC Director General.

“I have no confidence in the way the Government has run this process from the start,” said Ben Bradshaw MP, a former Labour Culture Secretary. The Government’s lack of transparency on the future of the BBC suggested “it has a hidden agenda to dismantle the BBC if the Tories win the next election”, he said.

Sebastian Coe has pulled out of the race (PA) Sebastian Coe has pulled out of the race (PA)
John Leech MP, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on media, said he was unhappy with the lack of information on how the final list of candidates had been drawn up for the £110,000-a-year part time role. “I do think there are some questions to be asked about the shortlisting process and how it’s determined who is an acceptable candidate and who is not.”

Mr Leech is a member of the Commons committee on Culture, Media and Sport, before which the successful candidate must appear for “preappointment scrutiny”. Another member of that committee, Labour MP Jim Sheridan, expressed concern at the lack of political diversity in the field.

He said: “I don’t think that’s good for the BBC which is supposed to be non-partisan. There has to be total transparency.”

Lord Coe was described as a “first-rate choice” for the BBC Trust role by London Mayor Boris Johnson, but the former Olympics supremo has said he wants “to concentrate” on seeking election as president of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

The BBC Trust interview process is set to take place over two days and will be overseen by a panel led by the Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood, the former BBC and ITV executive Carolyn Fairbairn and Lord Kakkar, a professor of surgery and crossbench peer.

Dame Marjorie Scardino, formerly chief executive of publisher Pearson, has also been linked with the BBC Trust role. Diane Coyle, Lord Patten’s deputy and the acting chair of the BBC Trust, applied for the job permanently but was not shortlisted. Last year Mr Osborne headhunted Canadian Mark Carney as Governor of the Bank of England, snubbing the deputy governor and hot favourite for the job Paul Tucker.

The DCMS said that the final candidates would be interviewed and would meet the Culture Secretary Sajid Javid before the Government made its final choice. Lord Patten’s successor should be in place by November or December. “We have set out the process and we are not going to give a running commentary on it,” said a spokesperson.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant - Immediate Start - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant - Immediate ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Advertising Sales Consultant - OTE £30k

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Gloucestershire's most innovati...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders