The BBC has been accused of hypocrisy after forcing newsreader George Alagiah to stand down as patron of a charity over a ‘conflict of interests’.

Former BBC newsreader Peter Sissons said making George quit the Fairtrade Foundation showed double standards – in the same week that BBC1 controller Jay Hunt was allowed to continue helping her husband run a media firm paid to coach the BBC’s staff.

Peter told The Mirror: “There seems to be one law for management and another for presenters.”

It’s thought the decision was made as George – host of the Six O’Clock News – is due to front a new BBC2 series on food.

The Fairtrade Foundation helps farmers in developing countries by encouraging businesses to buy their produce at fair prices. But George said his show will not deal with trade.

He said: “I argued this was a charity and that there’d been no complaints but I lost that argument. It’s a shame. I know some of the groups who work with Fairtrade are outraged.”

George’s role as patron was approved by the BBC when he accepted it in 2002.

Fairtrade’s Barbara Crowther said: “It’s a terrible blow. George has been exceptional.”

The BBC said: “These things are looked at on an individual basis. The BBC has a duty to protect its reputation for impartiality.”

Controller Jay is company secretary of her husband’s firm Brightspark TV.