The leading contender for the new BBC chairman role has pulled out – throwing Boris Johnson ’s plans to radically reform the broadcaster into disarray.
Lord Charles Moore of Etchingham is understood to have decided he will not apply for the position once current chairman Sir David Clementi stands down in Spring.
The Tory peer, who was Mr Johnson’s editor when he was at the Daily Telegraph, has cited family reasons for his choice to back out of the race.
But sources have suggested that Lord Moore, one of the BBC’s most outspoken critics, would have expected too high a salary for the role.
It was thought he would have expected as much as £280,000 a year to take the job at a time when the Corporation is facing a raft of job cuts.
Such a fee would be nearly triple the current salary of the post, with Sir David currently taking home £100,000 a year.
Lord Moore, who turns 64 this month, has previously criticised the criminalisation of people who refuse to pay the licence fee.
Downing Street has already drawn up a shortlist for the role which is also said to include former Tory chancellor George Osborne and ex-culture secretary Baroness Morgan.
Mr Johnson is also said to be considering ex-Daily Mail boss Paul Dacre for the role of chairman of broadcast watchdog Ofcom.
During his editorship of the right-wing tabloid, Mr Dacre was highly critical of the BBC, which he would regulate if he got the job.
However, he has little experience of the internet, for which Ofcom will now be responsible.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden previously sought to downplay speculation that offers had been made but said he wanted a “strong, big person” to hold the broadcaster to account.
“We have a formal process for them to go through so I will be launching shortly the competition for the chair of the BBC,” he recently told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee will scrutinise the nominees for both roles – but they do not have a power of veto.
A senior government source said: “This was always going to be a free and open competition.”