Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, is facing a cronyism row over the appointment of a new Chief Inspector of Prisons.
He came under fire after it emerged that two members of the four-strong selection panel to find a successor to Nick Hardwick were Conservative activists.
Mr Hardwick was due to step down in July, but will now remain in the post until November because a successor has not been found.
Sir Alan Beith, the chairman of the Commons Justice Select Committee, attacked Mr Grayling for failing to disclose that two “independent” members of the selection panel were active Tory members. They are Lord Henley, a former Conservative Home Office minister, and Amanda Sater, a member of the youth justice board.
The selection panel submitted one name to Mr Grayling which he rejected, scuppering the committee’s plans to cross-examine the chosen candidate.
It said: “The fact that two members of the panel were members of the same party as the appointing minister is a cause for particular concern for a post in which it is vital the incumbent commands public confidence in his or her ability to resist political pressure.”
Sadiq Khan, the shadow Justice Secretary, said: “Chris Grayling has stuffed the appointment panel for the new inspector full of known Tories.
“It just shows what lengths this Government will go to avoid having their failing policies properly scrutinised.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “The selection panel and process to recruit the role of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons was completely run in line with the Commissioner for Public Appointments' code of practice.
“It is good practice to provide the minister with a choice of candidates to select from and we are grateful to Nick Hardwick for agreeing to extend his appointment while this process takes place.”Reuse content