RISHI Sunak has refused to say that the next chair of the BBC will not be a Tory donor.

It comes after Richard Sharp, Sunak’s former boss at Goldman Sachs, was forced out of the top role at the broadcaster after a report found he had twice breached the code governing public appointments.

Sharp – a Tory donor who was installed at the top of the BBC after being named the favoured candidate of Boris Johnson’s government – resigned as BBC chair on Friday after being found to have broken the rules by failing to disclose he played a role in getting the former prime minister an £800,000 loan guarantee.

Asked if he could guarantee that Sharp’s replacement would not be a Tory donor in order to try and help restore public trust in the BBC, Sunak was evasive.

READ MORE: Behind the scenes as Rishi Sunak's team tries to hide him from Scottish media

“Look, there’s an established, independent appointments process for all appointments, particularly the one for the BBC, and we will follow the usual appointments process for that,” he said.

Pressed on the issue, the Prime Minister added: “There’s an appointments process that happens for those appointments. I’m not going to prejudge that. Literally, right now, I’m here talking to you, I haven’t actually seen the report.”

The report in question was compiled by Adam Heppinstall KC, who was assigned the project after William Shawcross, the Commissioner for Public Appointments, recused himself for having met Sharp on previous occasions.

It also emerged that Shawcross’s daughter works under Sunak (below) as a the head of No 10's policy unit.

The National: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Hannah McKay/PA)

Heppinstall, review published on Friday morning, said Sharp risked a perception that he was recommended for the role because he assisted Johnson “in a private financial matter” ahead of his appointment in 2021.

The KC also said there was the risk it would be perceived that he influenced Johnson to recommend him by notifying the former prime minister of his application before submitting it.

Failing to disclose both issues were found to have caused breaches of the governance code for public appointments.

Sharp formally took up the four-year appointment, which was ultimately approved by Johnson, in February 2021.

In his resignation statement, the now former BBC chair insisted that his breach of the rules was “inadvertent and not material”.

READ MORE: BBC chairman Richard Sharp resigns after investigation finds rule breach

“Nevertheless, I have decided that it is right to prioritise the interests of the BBC,” the former Goldman Sachs banker added.

“I feel that this matter may well be a distraction from the corporation’s good work were I to remain in post until the end of my term.

“I have therefore this morning resigned as BBC chair to the Secretary of State, and to the board.”

In the wake of the news, the SNP said that an independent inquiry should be launched into Johnson’s influence on the decision to give Sharp the top BBC role.

“Rishi Sunak must now act to protect the future of the BBC and launch an independent inquiry into the behaviour of Boris Johnson in appointing Richard Sharp," SNP Cabinet Office spokesperson Kirsty Blackman MP said.

She went on: "Sunak should also make a promise that the next chair will not be someone who is a major donor to the Tories.

“There’s still questions for Sunak to answer on the BBC as the current director-general is a former Tory candidate and Robbie Gibb, who sits on the BBC’s board, was a spin doctor for the Tories."

The Prime Minister defended himself from suggestions he should have sacked Sharp weeks ago, arguing it was right to follow the “proper process”.

The review was ordered after it emerged Sharp introduced his friend Sam Blyth, a distant cousin of Johnson who it was claimed wanted to help him with his financial troubles, to Cabinet Secretary Simon Case ahead of being recommended for the role by the Government.

The BBC Board said: “We accept and understand Richard’s decision to stand down.”

BBC director-general Tim Davie – below, who is also a former Tory official and council candidate – thanked Sharp for his service to the BBC and “the drive and intellect he brought to his time as chairman”.

“Working with him over the last two years has been rewarding and Richard has made a significant contribution to the transformation and success of the BBC,” Davie said.

“The focus for all of us at the BBC is continuing the hard work to ensure we deliver for audiences, both now and in the future.”

The National: Tim Davie

Labour’s shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell said Sharp had “caused untold damage to the reputation of the BBC and seriously undermined its independence as a result of the Conservatives’ sleaze and cronyism”.

“The Prime Minister should have sacked him weeks ago. Instead it took this investigation, called by Labour, to make him resign,” she added.

In a letter to Sharp, Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said that he was “held in high regard” by the BBC board but added that “I understand and respect your decision to stand down”.

“You have clearly demonstrated your commitment to public service and I especially applaud the work you did during the pandemic,” she said.

“Your decision to step down in the wider interests of the corporation is further testament to that commitment.

“Thank you, once again, for your service and I wish you well for the future. I am sure there will be further opportunities for you to make a significant contribution to public life.”