It has emerged that the new chairman of the BBC is a donor to Maajid Nawaz’s Quilliam Foundation.
Former Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp has given the “counter-extremism” think-thank £35,000 in the last three years, according to accounts submitted to the Charity Commission.
Sharp, who spent 23 years working for the banking giant and was reportedly Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s boss there, gave Quilliam £10,000 in 2017 and £25,000 in 2019.
He made the donations via his charity The Sharp Foundation which was set up to “advance such charitable purposes… as the trustees see fit from time to time.”
Analysts say the donations could pose questions about a conflict of interest should Quilliam Foundation spokespeople appear on the BBC. Some are even calling on the Charity Commission to investigate how Quilliam used The Sharp Foundation funds.
Mr Sharp’s career at Goldman Sachs culminated as chairman of its principal investment business in Europe before his departure in 2007. He was then on the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee for six years until 2019.
As an advisor to the Treasury about its pandemic response, the 63-year-old reportedly played a key role in the £1.57bn arts rescue package, and the film and television production restart scheme.
Mr Sharp is also a former donor to the Conservative Party.
The Chairman of the BBC is the head of the BBC Board, responsible for maintaining the independence of the BBC and overseeing the functioning of the BBC to fulfil its mission.
Since its foundation the Quilliam Foundation has been widely criticised by Muslim organisations for putting the emphasis on extremism within the Muslim community.
On the other hand, Quilliam describes itself as the world’s first counter-extremism organisation which challenges extremism to foster a shared sense of belonging and to advance liberal democratic values.