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Committee calls for public appointment process review

9 May 2016

Women and Equalities Committee calls into question the workings of the current public appointments process following its pre-appointment scrutiny of the new Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The Report

In the report, Appointment of the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Committee highlights the lack of transparency in the initial stages of candidate assessment.

Chair's Comments

Chair of the committee Maria Miller said:

"The Public Appointments process needs to command the confidence of members of the public. MPs have been given a central role in scrutinising that decision making yet some aspects of this are opaque. 
In this case the appointments panel did not document any discussion as to how Mr Isaac would balance his role as a Senior Equity Partner in an international law firm with the role of Chair of the EHRC despite potential and perceived conflicts of interest and possible issues around the Nolan Principles. Records of further conversations between Mr Isaac and the Cabinet Office were also unavailable to the Committee. 
To scrutinise important appointment decisions House of Commons committees need basic facts. In this case these were not forthcoming. In our report, we recommend that the pre-appointment scrutiny guidelines be reviewed.  
Personally I welcome the fact that someone of Mr Isaac's private sector experience has put himself forward for a position such as this. 
David Isaac is clearly a good candidate, if he is able to demonstrate how he will manage the conflicts of interest inherent between his role as a partner in a law firm and chair of EHRC. 
We are pleased that Mr Isaac has now taken steps to reduce the potential for conflict and perceived conflict, but as we have noted in our report, not all of the concerns have been fully dealt with. 
We will therefore continue to monitor the situation as part of our wider responsibility to scrutinise the equalities work of the EHRC."

Further information

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