Tories boycott BBC selection panel

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Indy Politics

The Conservatives said yesterday that they would boycott an independent panel set up to oversee the appointment of a new BBC chairman after it emerged the panel would have no say in who would fill the post.

Lord Baker, the former Home Secretary, turned down an invitation to join a panel of three privy counsellors asked to oversee the selection of a successor to Gavyn Davis, who resigned in the wake of the Hutton Report.

The panel will sit alongside Dame Rennie Fritchie, the Commissioner for Public Appointments, but Lord Baker said he would not sit because the group would have no involvement in the selection process.

Under current rules the post is advertised and an independent panel draws up a shortlist before making recommendations to the Government. The panel of privy counsellors was established to give an extra guarantee of impartiality to the appointment.

But Lord Baker expressed concern over the new chairman's role as a link between the BBC, the Government and Parliament. He said: "In my view the job of the BBC chair is to be an independent figure protecting the interests of the BBC and very often this has to be against the interests of the Government."