Skip to main content

EHRC Chair: report of Pre Appointment Hearing

9 May 2016

The Joint Committee on Human Rights publishes its report on the joint Pre Appointment Hearing for the new Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Chair's comments

JCHR Chair Harriet Harman said:

"Both the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Women & Equalities Committee considered that, overall, David Isaac was a good candidate for the post of Chair of the EHRC. However, it's essential that the holder of that post should be independent and is seen to be independent. 

There was evidently a potential conflict of interest between David Isaac's continuing financial interests as a senior equity partner in Pinsent Masons and his role as the independent chair of the EHRC. After JCHR and the Women & Equalities Committee raised this with him in our pre-appointment hearing on 23 March, he has moved to address this problem by foregoing any of the Pinsent Masons profits attributable to Pinsent Masons's advice to government. But bearing in mind that Pinsent Masons has a wide range of other clients who might come into the ambit of the EHRC at some future date, Mr Isaac will need to keep an eye on any further conflicts of interest that may arise in the future, as will the Joint Committee on Human Rights. 

The Government need to learn lessons from the failure of their appointment process to identify this potential conflict of interest. It shouldn't be down to Select Committees to identify such an obvious problem at a late stage in the process. The Government need to ensure in future that potential conflicts of interest affecting candidates for senior public positions are rigorously identified and addressed as a routine part of their recruitment, particularly for posts such as this where independence, including independence from Government, is so crucial to the role."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto