LONDON — Sir David Clementi, the former deputy governor of the Bank of England, looks set to become the BBC’s new chairman — a post he played a major role in creating.
ITV News’ political editor Robert Peston reported on Monday that Clementi is culture secretary Karen Bradley’s preferred candidate. This was supported by The Guardian and others on Tuesday.
Bradley has recommended the former Virgin Money and Prudential chair to Prime Minister Theresa May, who is expected to rubber stamp his appointment this week. It will ultimately be waived through by the Queen, although this step is simply a formality.
A Department for Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) spokesman said he would not comment on the “speculation.”
ITV’s Peston said Clementi’s appointment could prove “controversial” because he was a key architect in creating the BBC chairman role. Clementi led a review of the BBC’s governance structure last year, at the end of which he recommended abolishing the broadcaster’s governing body, the BBC Trust, and replacing it with a unitary board.
If appointed, Clementi will chair this unitary board, effectively replacing BBC Trust chairman Rona Fairhead. Fairhead was expected to fill the newly created chairman vacancy, but is stepping aside after an intervention from Prime Minister May. The changes are set to take place in April, at which point Ofcom will also become the BBC’s external regulator.
The Guardian said Clementi was on a DCMS shortlist that also included John Makinson, the chairman of book publisher Penguin Random House, and Civil Aviation Authority chair Dame Deirdre Hutton. Guardian media business correspondent Mark Sweney added that Clementi could be grilled by the cross-party Culture Media and Sport Committee as early as next Tuesday.
Chairing the BBC will be a very high-profile post that will involve safeguarding the interests of licence fee payers, who fund the corporation to the tune of £3.7 billion. Director general Tony Hall will report into the new chair.