Boris Johnson’s first choice to be chairman of the BBC has ruled himself out of the role, according to reports.
Charles Moore, the former editor of the Daily Telegraph, ruled himself out for personal reasons, the Sunday Times said.
A formal recruitment process to find a successor to Sir David Clementi as chairman of the BBC board has yet to commence.
The Sunday Times said it had been “virtually a done deal” that Lord Moore would get the post when Sir David stands down in February.
But the newspaper said the BBC would have been forced to inflate the salary it pays its chairman to at least £280,000 to attract him to the role.
Meanwhile, Lord Moore received backing from Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, who told the Mail on Sunday: “Charles Moore is one of the most brilliant writers, journalists and thinkers in Britain today.
“Anyone who knows him knows he is open-minded, fair-minded, passionate about this country’s success.
“The BBC is an amazing institution and Charles is someone who would bring a properly Reithian approach to it. He would want to make the BBC succeed.”
The Government refused to comment on speculation around the recruitment process.
A Government spokeswoman said: “We will launch the application process for the new chair of the BBC shortly.
“It is an open recruitment process and all public appointments are subject to a robust and fair selection criteria.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has previously said the Government wants a “strong, big person who can hold the BBC to account” to fill the role.
Mr Johnson’s Government is also reported to be supporting ex-Daily Mail editor and vocal BBC critic Paul Dacre to become chairman of broadcast regulator Ofcom.
Mr Gove said: “Paul Dacre is probably the single most successful newspaper editor of the past three or four decades and he is someone who has defied expectations in the campaigns that he’s run on the environment and to pursue the killers of Stephen Lawrence.
“Because both men are right of centre, and because both of them – like 52% of the people in this country – thought we should leave the European Union, they have been painted in primary colours as somehow demon kings. That is just not true.”