BBC withdraws invitation for SNP MP to appear on Radio 4 programme
SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC has claimed that the BBC has ‘cancelled’ her appearance on a Radio 4 programme after she grilled a candidate for the BBC chair position. Cherry, who is the SNP’s spokesperson for home affairs and justice, was due to appear on the Today programme on Friday morning, but was informed by the producers that they had changed their plans.
Cherry said that she was told that the BBC had decided to focus on the Covid-19 situation instead, and that they would invite her another time. However, she suspected that the real reason for the withdrawal was her interview with Richard Sharp, a former Goldman Sachs banker and adviser to Boris Johnson, who is the frontrunner to become the new BBC chair.
Cherry questions Sharp’s suitability for BBC chair role
Cherry interviewed Sharp on Thursday as part of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s pre-appointment scrutiny of the government’s preferred candidate for the BBC chair role. She asked him about his views on Brexit, Scottish independence, diversity, and BBC impartiality. She also challenged him on his donations to the Conservative Party and his involvement in a tax avoidance scheme.
Sharp admitted that he had donated more than £400,000 to the Tories since 2001, and that he had used a tax avoidance scheme that was later ruled unlawful by the courts. He also said that he had voted for Brexit, but that he respected the views of those who voted to remain. He denied that he had any bias against Scotland or its right to self-determination, and said that he valued diversity and inclusion in the BBC.
Cherry pressed Sharp on whether he would uphold the BBC’s charter and editorial guidelines, and whether he would defend the BBC from political interference. She also asked him how he would ensure that the BBC represented the views and interests of the four nations of the UK, and whether he would support the Scottish Six proposal, which would see a Scottish-produced news programme broadcast on BBC One at 6pm.
Sharp said that he would abide by the BBC’s charter and editorial guidelines, and that he would protect the BBC’s independence and impartiality. He said that he would work with the BBC’s director-general Tim Davie to ensure that the BBC reflected the diversity of the UK, and that he was open to the idea of the Scottish Six, but that it was not his decision to make.
Cherry slams BBC for ‘silencing’ her voice
Cherry took to Twitter to express her frustration at the BBC’s decision to withdraw her invitation to appear on the Today programme. She said that she had prepared a briefing on the Internal Market Bill, which is currently being debated in the House of Lords, and that she wanted to highlight the threats it posed to devolution and the Good Friday Agreement.
She accused the BBC of ‘silencing’ her voice, and suggested that they were trying to avoid any criticism of the government or its policies. She said that the BBC had a duty to inform and educate the public, and that they should not be intimidated by the government or its allies.
She also said that she had received a lot of support from her colleagues and the public, and that she would continue to speak out for Scotland and its democracy. She said that she was not afraid of challenging the establishment, and that she would not be cowed by the BBC or anyone else.