Former Home Office minister Karen Bradley is new Culture Secretary as Whittingdale sacked

Karen Bradley is to replace John Whittingdale as Culture Secretary.

Bradley, a former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Home Office, will have to forge a new relationship with the media, as the BBC transitions into a new Royal Charter and a unitary board replaces the BBC Trust.

The married mother of two was previously responsible for preventing abuse, exploitation and crime – but will now take on arts, culture, broadcasting and media mergers.

karenbradley

Staffordshire MP Bradley attended her local comprehensive, Buxton Girls School, before going on to gain a BSc in Maths from Imperial College London.

After university she qualified as both a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Adviser and spent nearly 20 years in business.

Whittingdale, a divorced father of two, hit the headlines when he admitted to having a relationship with a prostitute he met through a dating website

He said he had been unaware of the woman’s occupation and had broken off the relationship after six months in 2014 when he discovered someone was trying to sell the story to the press.

Calls for him to step down from decisions about press regulation, after it was revealed several newspapers chose not to run the story, were dismissed by Downing Street.

Whittingdale, who once joked that the demise of the BBC was a “tempting prospect”, appeared to have a strained relationship with the broadcaster, whose licence fee he described as “worse than the poll tax”.

However, the White Paper he published on the future of the broadcaster did not include many of the dramatic reforms that some newspapers had predicted.

The BBC’s Royal Charter expires at the end of December and a public consultation into its future was launched last year.

The White Paper was expected to set out a tougher regime as part of a proposed deal to grant a new Royal Charter, but the proposals were largely welcomed by the corporation.

He laid out plans for a unitary board to replace the BBC Trust and for media watchdog Ofcom to take over full regulation of the broadcaster.

Reports that he would prevent the BBC from screening popular shows at peak viewing times did not materialise.

The MP for Maldon was made culture secretary at a sensitive time for a British media still bruised from the phone-hacking scandal.

His appointment was largely welcomed by journalists, with Toby Young describing Whittingdale as a “staunch defender of press freedom”, while Kevin Maguire – associate editor at the Daily Mirror – described his appointment as “payback time for Tory press barons”.

 

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