Is Sebastian Coe a woman?

Contrary to my previous blog, Smoking Gun I now believe that the decision to appoint Rona Fairhead of HSBC to the BBC Trust chair was made in May 2014. This article appeared in the Sunday Times on 11 May 2014:


This announcement provoked a lot of comment in the media:

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 09.56.31

However, following the Sunday Times article the Department of Culture, Media and Sport allegedly invited 8 headhunting firms to tender for the job of recruiting the new Chair, but not in accordance with its usual practice:

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 09.35.47

In the event, the work went to Saxton Bampfylde, a firm where the BBC Director General’s wife is a partner, and the contract is dated 24 May (a mere 10 days after the “invitation” to tender). 24 May was a Saturday on a bank holiday weekend. I have asked the DCMS under the Freedom of Information Act for details of the 8 firms allegedly invited to tender, but they seem to have difficulty complying with this request. The total fee for the work was £36,000.

A decoy was required, so on 28 May 2014 it was announced:

Lord Coe 'approached by government' for role of BBC Trust chair Media The Guardian

The article also states:

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.09.20

It seems odd that the government would “approach” Coe having just agreed a contract with the BBC DG’s wife’s firm to recruit somebody.

As anyone familiar with the story at the time will recall there was a lot of speculation about whether Coe would take the job although he had never applied and the speculation died down once he said he was not interested. So, at the end of August 2014 it was announced: