One of the biggest trade unions in Britain attacks multi-millionaire Sir Damon Buffini, who is tipped for the BBC’s top job
One of Britain’s biggest trade unions has launched a vitriolic attack against a multi-millionaire investor who is a frontrunner to be the next BBC chairman.
The GMB, which represents more than 500,000 public-sector workers, said it was ‘ridiculous’ that Sir Damon Buffini was a contender for the job.
Sir Damon, 61, made a multi-million-pound fortune as head of the private equity firm Permira, where a buyout of the AA in 2004 led to hundreds of job losses.
In the aftermath, the GMB paraded a camel outside a church while he worshipped – a reference to the biblical saying that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
Months later, the union handed out sickbags at a charity fundraiser organised by Sir Damon, who is deputy BBC chairman.
Sir Damon Buffini, 61, made a multi-million-pound fortune as head of the private equity firm Permira
The BBC has appointed Professor Dame Elan Closs Stephens, who led the board of Welsh broadcaster SC4, as its acting chairman (file image)
It now has him in its sights again as the BBC replaces Richard Sharp, who quit in April after it emerged he hadn’t told the BBC before he was appointed that he helped former PM Boris Johnson to secure an £800,000 loan.
GMB national secretary Andy Prendergast described Sir Damon as ‘a poster boy for the worst excesses of capitalism’, adding: ‘The idea that he should be given power over another national institution is nothing less than ridiculous. Frankly, these jobs should be given to able, competent people who understand an institution like the BBC – not slash-and-burn merchants who make themselves rich at everyone else’s expense.’
The BBC has appointed Professor Dame Elan Closs Stephens, who led the board of Welsh broadcaster S4C, as its acting chairman until a permanent replacement is found.
Richard Sharp quit the job in April after it emerged he hadn’t told the BBC before he was appointed that he helped former PM Boris Johnson to secure an £800,000 loan
It comes after Labour warned private-equity bosses that it will close a tax loophole that allows them to pay a lower rate on large chunks of their earnings. Sir Damon grew up on a council estate in Leicester, the son of an African-American father and a white British mother who raised him alone.
He was educated at a local grammar and studied law at Cambridge. He then went to Harvard Business School before working in the City, where he led a management buyout of the private equity arm of Schroders bank to create Permira. His fortune is said to be as much as £200 million.
He is chairman of the National Theatre and ran the £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund to rescue arts groups during the pandemic.
Labour’s culture spokesman Lucy Powell said: ‘The Government must run an independent and transparent appointments process that selects the best candidate – not the one with the closest ties to ministers.’ Sir Damon did not respond to requests for comment.