Letter: Picking a chairman

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The Independent Online
Sir: Paul Donovan (article, 7 August) commented on the procedures used in the selection of Sir Frederick Crawford as chairman designate of the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

It is dismissive of Mr Donovan to state that "the Home Office boasted that the selection for this post was one of the first to be carried out in accordance with the recommendations of the Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life". Surely leadership in this area should be commended, not ridiculed.

As a result of the Nolan recommendations, I was appointed, in November 1995, as the first Independent Commissioner for Public Appointments to monitor, regulate and provide advice on departments' appointment procedures. I will also investigate written complaints about specific public appointments. In April this year I published a Code of Practice for Public Appointments Procedures and guidance for departments, both of which came into effect on 1 July. Many departments, including the Home Office, have been applying the Code of Practice's seven principles (which include appointment on merit, independent scrutiny and openness and transparency) to their appointments procedures for some time, well in advance of the July deadline.

Amongst other things Paul Donovan argued that the advertisement for the appointment which he was questioning, "was not widely published". The post was advertised in three newspapers and a firm of executive search consultants was also used. In addition, the list of volunteers held in the Public Appointments Unit was scrutinised. The result of these measures was a total of 124 candidates from whom Sir Frederick was chosen.


Commissioner for Public Appointments

London SW1