Page last updated at 19:56 GMT, Sunday, 7 June 2009 20:56 UK

Sugar 'must choose' between jobs

Sir Alan: "I'll act as a kind of giant Dragons Den"

The Conservatives say Sir Alan Sugar must choose between working for the government and working for the BBC as the star of The Apprentice.

They say his new role as an "enterprise tsar" for the government is "completely incompatible" with BBC rules.

Sir Alan, who will also be made a lord, denied he was joining the government.

"As far as I'm concerned, this is politically neutral. All I want to do is to try and help businesses and enterprise," he told the BBC.

News of Sir Alan's appointment came on Friday as Gordon Brown reshuffled his cabinet.

'Not political'

Asked whether it had been a publicity stunt, Sir Alan told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "It's a shame it looks like that but I'm sure that... you know I'm not the type of person to be used.

"I have a passion and commitment to try and help small businesses and enterprise to see if we can get things moving again."

Sir Alan Sugar needs to make a choice between his role in The Apprentice and his role as the government's business tsar
Jeremy Hunt
Conservatives

He denied he had joined the government, saying: "I wouldn't join the government, I don't see this as a political thing."

He said he made it "perfectly clear" to Mr Brown that he would not compromise his position on The Apprentice - the BBC show that Sir Alan fronts.

He said he had spoken to the BBC in advance for guidelines on the issue adding: "It's very simple - all I am is an adviser, I'm not a policymaker."

Asked whether he would become a peer, Sir Alan replied: "That's what I hear."

Asked whether he would continue in the "enterprise tsar" role under a Conservative government, Sir Alan - who said he had known Mr Brown for years - said: "As far as I'm concerned this is politically neutral. All I want to do is try and help business and entrepreneurs."

On the Tory leader he said: "I have never met Mr Cameron and I don't know anything about him."

Television role

But the Conservatives said Sir Alan's role on The Apprentice was now "completely incompatible" with BBC rules.

Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "Presenting a programme for the BBC and working for the government on the same issue is totally incompatible with the BBC's rules on political independence and impartiality.

"Sir Alan Sugar needs to make a choice between his role in The Apprentice and his role as the government's business tsar."

He said he had written to BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons to ask "as a matter of urgency to explain who at the BBC gave guidance to Sir Alan and whether he had informed them that he would be a Labour peer".

A spokesman for the BBC Trust said it was aware that Mr Hunt had written to its chairman and would respond shortly.

A BBC spokesman said: "Sir Alan is in discussions with us about his plans and has assured us that he is determined not to do anything that would jeopardise his work at the BBC, which is something he greatly values."



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EUROPEAN ELECTION RESULTS

MEP Seats

  Votes MEPs
Party % +/- % Total +/-
EPP 33.4 -1.4 264 -18
Socialists 23.2 -4.1 183 -26
Liberal 11.0 +1.6 84 +5
Green 7.4 +1.3 50 +9
Left 5.3 -0.6 34 -2
UEN 3.4 +1.6 28 +2
Ind/Dem 2.7 -1.8 21 -15
No Group 13.6 +3.4 72 +3.4
0 of 27 countries declared.

UK Total MEP Seats

Party Votes MEPs
% +/- % Total +/-
CON 27.7 1.0 *26 1
UKIP 16.5 0.3 13 1
LAB 15.7 -6.9 13 -5
LD 13.7 -1.2 11 1
GRN 8.6 2.4 2 0
BNP 6.2 1.3 2 2
SNP 2.1 0.7 2 0
PC 0.8 -0.1 1 0
OTH 8.5 2.4 0 0
SF 1 0
DUP 1 0
72 of 72 seats declared. Vote share figures exclude Northern Ireland as it has a separate electoral system to the rest of the UK
* Includes UCUNF MEP elected in Northern Ireland
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