One of the leading candidates to become chairman of the BBC when Sir David Clementi stands down in February next year is Richard Sharp, a member of a long established Jewish family in London.
Mr Sharp is the son of Lord Sharp of Grimsdyke, the former Eric Sharp, who was first knighted and then given a life peerage for his services as chair of the energy company, Cable and Wireless, between 1980 and 1990.
Eric Sharp married the former Marion Freedman in 1950 and the couple, who were members of Westminster Synagogue, had three children: Richard, Nicola, who died in 1982, and Victoria, who, as Dame Victoria Sharp, is president of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in England and Wales.
Richard Sharp married an American, also named Victoria, in 1987 in Connecticut. He has spent most of his career in banking, starting with the city banker JP Morgan, and then more than 20 years with the Wall Street banking giant Goldman Sachs, where he was boss to the future chancellor, Rishi Sunak.
He was appointed, in 2013, to join the Bank of England’s financial policy committee, which monitors potential risks to the UK’s financial system.
Mr Sharp was an adviser to Boris Johnson during his time as mayor, and served as chair of the Royal Academy of Arts trust; both he and his wife have strong cultural interests and — as a big donor to the Conservatives, having given more than £400,000 to the party — he is understood to have been key in persuading Mr Sunak to pull together a more generous package for arts and heritage organisations.
So he has close contacts with Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak. If appointed, he would not be the first Jewish chair of the BBC: that honour is held by Lord Grade, who was chair of the corporation between 2004 and 2006.
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