John Nicolson MP goes viral after grilling potential BBC chairman


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Ochil and South Perthshire MP John Nicolson grills new BBC Chair and video goes viral.

The Tory choice for BBC Chair Samir Shah has appeared before the influential Commons Culture and Media Committee for an unexpectedly brutal grilling.

Dr Shah – an experienced tv executive – had been expected to sail through.

But John Nicolson M.P. – the SNP’s Culture and Media spokesperson repeatedly questioned Dr. Shah over his relationship with the UK Government, and whether he’d be able to resist pressure from Tory ministers. A key part of the Chair’s role is to defend the BBC’s independence.

“You wouldn’t be getting this job if the UK government was afraid you, would you?” asked Mr Nicolson.

In response to this and other question from Mr. Nicolson and the all party Committee, Dr. Shah struggled to provide answers and at one point remained silent for a total of ten seconds.

In a rare move the Committee published a report expressing disappointment at Dr. Shah’s unwillingness to express a point of view on fundamental principles including BBC Board probity.

Videos of the encounter have garnered almost 2 million views on the MP’s Twitter feed. The video has been shared by many public figures including former countdown presenter Carol Vorderman.

Mr. Nicolson’s previously grilled former BBC Chair Richard Sharpe who, once his financial links to Boris Johnson were exposed, resigned from the position.

Commenting John Nicolson said:

“I don’t believe the UK Government – whether Tory or Labour – should be appointing the Chair of the BBC. The system is deeply flawed.

Samir Shah, whom I know and like personally, gave a weak performance before the Culture and Media Committee. He was unwilling to express a view on whether BBC Board members should be in a political party. Or whether a BBC Board member should try and influence the choice of Chair for the independent regular Ofcom. These are important issues. But he seemed anxious not to offend the Tory Secretary of State who appoints him. And that’s not good enough.”