THE news that a Tory donor and former prospective MP candidate was directly involved in selecting the next BBC board member for Scotland has sparked fresh calls for the devolution of broadcasting.

Catherine Baxendale, a former Tesco executive and current head of Ayot Consultancy, interviewed candidates for the role, according to reports in The Times.

The current BBC board member for Scotland, Steve Morrison, is due to step down in January.

Morrison’s replacement has reportedly already been chosen, with interviews having finished in July.

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Baxendale, who gave the Tories £50,000 while David Cameron was in power, was also among the interviewers who recommended the appointment of new BBC chairman Richard Sharp – a man who has donated £400,000 to the Conservatives and has close ties to Rishi Sunak.

The BBC board member for England is currently Robbie Gibb, Theresa May’s former chief of communications and a staunch Brexiteer.

Furthermore, the corporation’s director-general, Tim Davie, is a former deputy chair of a local Tory party branch and stood to be a Conservative councillor in the 1990s.

The National:

Commenting, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson (above) said: “Once again we see the revolving door between those with influence in the Conservative Party and positions of power in the governance of BBC.

“And now it's plain to see Tory influence at the corporation extends to the BBC in Scotland, highlighting the urgent need for broadcasting powers to be devolved to Holyrood, a position backed by most people in Scotland.”

At the end of October the BBC announced a 10-point plan focused on impartiality and editorial standards. Speaking at the time, BBC chairman Sharp said: "We need a BBC that is beyond reproach when it comes to impartiality, standards, processes and transparency.”

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Referencing that news, an SNP source told The National: “Two weeks ago, the BBC chairman Richard Sharp announced supposed plans on impartiality and promised transparency. These latest revelations leave those claims sounding utterly hollow.”

Baxendale was previously shortlisted to be the Tory’s MP candidate for Hitchin and Harpenden in Hertfordshire.

The Guardian reported earlier in the week that the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments watchdog had to step in to prevent Tory ministers breaching independence and impartiality guidelines during the search for new chairs for the BBC, the British Film Institute and the Office for Students, which regulates universities.

The BBC has been approached for comment.