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Elan Closs Stephens, who has assumed charge as acting BBC chair following the resignation of Richard Sharp, has spoken out about her predecessor and the process of appointing her successor.

Sharp resigned in April over his role in a 2020 loan to then U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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On Wednesday, Closs Stephens’ first day as acting BBC chair, a Q&A with BBC presenter Tina Daheley was shared with the corporation’s staff.

When asked what she would say to people who feel the BBC’s reputation has been damaged by what happened with Richard Sharp, Closs Stephens said: “There’s no doubt that we’ve gone through a difficult period of time and I’m sure that staff and the board and Richard himself were unnerved by what happened over the past few months. All of us feel a debt of gratitude to Richard for the way in which he committed himself to the organization during his two years. But the organization as a whole is about the creativity and the news values and the production values of all the people who work in it.”

The executive said that the BBC’s “fantastic quality” of output is what most people would measure the broadcaster by. “We need to re-establish the confidence and the ambition in that output and to know that the board is fully behind the creativity of the organization,” Closs Stephens said.

About the process of appointing a permanent BBC chair, Closs Stephens said: “The process will be an external appointment. But I know that as a board, we are really firmly of the opinion that the guidelines should be followed, that there should be head-hunters, there should be as wide a search as possible, it should be as diverse a field as possible and that there should be some really very strong candidates from all walks of life if we can, with the necessary experience to take on this role. It’s not a time for standing still. Although the period in which I’m going to be chair is quite short, we need to get on with the job.”

Closs Stephens’ words echo that of BBC director general Tim Davie, who recently said that a “transparent process is critical” and that the candidate should be “someone who can champion the impartiality and the independence of the BBC” and should “have demonstrable experience.”

Sharp was previously an investment banker.

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