Richard Sharp unsuitable to be BBC chairman, ex-director general John Birt says

Former BBC Director-General Sir John Birt has said Richard Sharp is “not suitable” to become the broadcaster's chairman.

Mr Sharp, a former investment banker and Conservative donor, was chosen by the government to be the next chairman of the BBC. But Sir John has criticised the appointment, arguing that the role requires a “deep understanding” of the public service broadcaster and its mission.

Speaking to the Radio Times, Sir John said Mr Sharp “has none of those qualifications” and that his appointment “will not be a success”.

Sir John was director-general of the BBC from 1992 to 2000, and is credited with reforming the broadcaster's management structure during his tenure.

He said the appointment of the BBC's chairman should be done by a panel of independent experts and not by the government.

“The BBC needs a chairman who understands its mission and has the standing to represent it around the world,” Sir John said.

“And in my view Richard Sharp does not meet this criteria. He has no track record in public service broadcasting, no deep understanding of the BBC, and no respect for its mission to inform, educate and entertain.

“He is also a Conservative donor, which means his appointment could be seen as politically motivated. I believe there are far more suitable candidates for the job.”

Sir John's comments come amid a wave of criticism of Mr Sharp's appointment, with many arguing that he lacks the experience necessary to lead the BBC.

The government has defended its choice, saying Mr Sharp was chosen for his “extensive experience in the business world” and that he is “best placed to lead the BBC”.

However, Sir John's comments will likely add to the pressure on the government to reconsider its decision.