Jowell aide Sharp to quit for top O2 lobbying role

Roger Sharp, special adviser to embattled Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, is to quit this spring to become group director of public affairs at O2, PRWeek can reveal.

Sharp is not expected to join the mobile phone firm until after the May local elections. He will report to group director of corporate affairs Richard Poston.

News of his departure comes as Jowell faces the biggest crisis of her ministerial career. Her lawyer husband David Mills is alleged to have used a £350,000 bribe from Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to pay off the couple's mortgage, co-signed by Jowell.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell was this Thursday expected to give his verdict on whether Jowell's involvement breached the ministerial code of conduct.

At O2, Sharp replaces Richard Brown who stepped down to set up UK Net Monitor, a web reputation consultancy (PRWeek, 3 November 2005).

Sharp joined the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in the days before London was awarded the 2012 Olympics. He arrived alongside one of Jowell's two other existing special advisers Sara Latham, who joined from Freud Communications (PRWeek, 1 July 2005). Nick Bent is her other key aide.

Sharp's remit at the department has included policy advice on the delivery of the Olympics and comms counsel on the regulation of media ownership in the UK.

Before the DCMS, Sharp served as special adviser to Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt. He is also a former business liaison officer for the Labour Party and for campaigning group Britain in Europe. Prior to that he was a consultant at PA firm GJW.

O2 refused to confirm Sharp's appointment. Head of media relations David Nicholas said: 'O2 is not in a position to comment on filling [the] vacancy at this stage.' Sharp did not return calls as PRWeek went to press.

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