Non-executive HSBC director turned chair of BBC Trust strolls into her role as Conservative government minister and gains a seat in the House of Lords for life.
Article written by Iain Fenton, journalist for EsportsOnly.
Rona Fairhead, the former chair of the BBC Trust, who was described by Labour MP Margaret Hodge as “either incredibly naive or totally incompetent” due to her role as Chair of HSBCs Audit Committee in the HSBC tax avoidance scandal, will start her new role as Minister for Trade and Export Promotion with immediate effect.
The revolving door taking BBC workers into the heart of the Conservative government is still alive and well it seems. Fairhead follows the likes of Robbie Gibb into a government position after he fought off his fellow BBC colleague James Landale to become Theresa May’s Director of Communications earlier this year. Another ex BBC employee who took a role in the Conservative government is Will Walden. In 2012, Walden took up the role of Director of Communications for the then Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
Incidentally, Gibb, despite being the Prime Minister’s Director of Communications, continues in his role as the editor of the BBCs Sunday Politics and Daily Politics programmes.
Conflicts of interest seems to be all the range in this day and age. Fairhead herself was receiving a $500,000 director’s salary from HSBC whilst in her role as Chair of the BBC Trust. This was happening at the same time that the bank was reeling from money laundering for terrorist’s accusations – these accusations turned out to be completely true.
Following the HSBC revelations, Labour MP Margaret Hodge, the then chair of the Public Accounts Committee, stated that Fairhead should resign from her BBC post.
After Downing Streets announcement that Fairhead will become Tory Minister for Trade and Export Promotion, Hodge said it was “outrageous” that she had been offered this role before going on to say that it was “not down to her capabilities.”
“It shows it is all about who you know, rather than what you know, said Hodges. “It is all about being a member of the establishment.”
Indeed, the Director of News at the BBC, James Harding used to work under Fairhead at the Financial Times and is a close friend of former Chancellor turned news editor, George Osborne.
The UK government, the BBC and HSBC seem to have a revolving door policy. Nicolas Wilson, a former HSBC employee turned whistleblower who won a 13-year campaign against HSBC, claims that Rona Fairhead’s appointment to the BBC was in itself corrupt whilst the UK cabinet office, BBC and HSBC are three heads of the same hydra.
Wilson also claims that the BBC are illicit in failing to report on HSBC crimes. The fact that Fairhead was working in her role as a senior BBC figure whilst also working as a high ranking HSBC board member adds more fuel to the fire.
Truly, it is no longer surprising to see bankers, mainstream journalists and politicians jumping from ship to ship. Do not forget that the BBC are a publically funded broadcaster, would the public be happy that the news broadcaster that they are funding is essentially being gagged by HSBC?
Incidentally, alongside her appointment as an international trade minister, Fairhead has also been gifted with a life peerage. Baroness Fairhead – it has a sickly ring to it doesn’t it?