Labour has called for Theresa May’s former communications director to be sacked from the board of the BBC after allegations he tried to block a senior editorial appointment on political grounds.
The Financial Times reported that Sir Robbie Gibb, who became a non-executive director at the corporation in May, attempted to stop former HuffPost UK editor and deputy editor of BBC Newsnight Jess Brammar from being appointed to oversee the BBC’s news channels because he felt it would damage the Government’s trust in the broadcaster.
The newspaper reported that Sir Robbie, an ex-senior BBC journalist and former editorial adviser to GB News, had sent a text message to BBC director for news and current affairs Fran Unsworth saying she “cannot make this appointment” and that the Government’s “fragile trust in the BBC will be shattered” if she did.
Ms Brammar challenged the Government while at the helm of HuffPost UK after equalities minister Kemi Badenoch accused one of her journalists of “creepy and bizarre” behaviour over a standard request for comment made to a Government press office.
It comes at a time when the BBC’s director-general Tim Davie has attempted to address concerns over the broadcaster’s impartiality.
Jo Stevens, Labour’s shadow digital, culture, media and sport secretary, said: “These allegations raise very serious questions about Conservative cronyism at the heart of the BBC.
“If Robbie Gibb is in post to further Tory interests rather than the public interest, then he is in the wrong job.
“Oliver Dowden must join the calls for him to resign or the BBC must sack him immediately for the sake of its own integrity.”
Sir Robbie, who is now a senior communications adviser at Kekst CNC and director of the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
His brother Nick Gibb is Conservative MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton and minister for school standards.
A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC doesn’t comment on ongoing recruitment processes, which are the responsibility of the executive, but for the record, no recruitment process has been blocked.
“People should wait for the outcome which will be announced in due course.
“And as a general principle, board members are able to discuss issues with other board members or senior executives. These principles were adhered to.”