Tory MP criticised for suggesting ‘pre-appointment hearing’ for new BBC director general

PUBLISHED: 14:27 12 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:27 12 March 2020

Tory MP Julian Knight questions the BBC chairman. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Tory MP Julian Knight questions the BBC chairman. Photograph: Parliament TV.

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The BBC’s chairman has clashed with a senior Tory MP after he proposed a ‘pre-appointment hearing’ for the next director general.

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The BBC chairman and the chairman of the DCMS committee, Tory MP Julian Knight, have clashed over the issue of appointing the corporation's new director general.

Committee chair Knight asked if there could be a 'pre-appointment hearing' for Lord Hall's successor, prompting accusations the Tories were trying to influence the decision.

But BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said it would be 'inappropriate', saying that the corporation's charter is 'absolutely explicit that the responsibility for appointing the new director general is a matter for the board of the BBC'.

The charter says 'the BBC must act in a completely independent fashion, so I think probably any political influence on this would be incorrect,' he said.


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Knight said that the committee was 'not asking for a right of veto. We want a pre-appointment hearing.'

Sir David asked if his request was 'to influence the decision, or veto the decision or ratify the decision?', saying that the charter makes it 'almost impossible'.

He added: 'They cannot come before, we the BBC, the board have actually ratified the appointment. I think it would be inappropriate.'

Clementi said he was happy for the person who is appointed to come and see the DCMS committee after they have been ratified by the BBC board.

It comes as pro-BBC campaigners called for Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson to keep their hands off the corporation.

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