The Commissioner for Public Appointments

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BBC Board Competition Q&A 10 January 2017

How was the Chair of the BBC Board appointed?

The process for appointing the Chair of the BBC Board is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, currently Peter Riddell, to ensure that it is made on the basis of fair and open competition and on merit.

Was the process really open?

The competition for the Chair was launched on 25 October 2016 which means that the appointment process must be conducted in line with the Commissioner’s  2012 Code of Practice and, as it is the appointment of a ‘Chair’, an independent assessor appointed by the Commissioner must oversee the appointment process from start to finish. [A list of other appointments regulated by the Commissioner can be found here]

The Commissioner’s Code of Practice requires that roles like this are openly advertised. Where and how this is done is decided by the Department running the appointment. For the BBC Board Chair appointment an advertisement appeared in the Sunday Times as well as on the Cabinet Office Public Appointments website and that of the recruitment consultants used for this process. A press release also generated significant media coverage about the role.

Who was on the appointments panel?

Under the 2012 Code there is a requirement that the appointment panels for the chairs of all regulated public bodies are chaired by an independent Public Appointments Assessor (PAA) appointed by the Commissioner. In the case of the BBC Trust Chair, the PAA appointed was Sir Peter Spencer who is a very experienced assessor. The other panel members were Sue Owen, Dame Colette Bowe and Lord Janvrin.

Who makes the final decision?

The independent appointments panel decides which of the candidates is appointable. Those appointable candidates are then submitted to the Minister (or Prime Minister) who makes the final choice. In the case of the BBC Board Chair the names went first to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and then to the Prime Minister (who is required to submit the name of the successful candidate to the Queen). In addition, the preferred candidate is required to appear before the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee for a pre-appointment scrutiny hearing.

What about recent changes to the way public appointments are made?

Following a review carried out by Sir Gerry Grimstone, changes to public appointments have been announced by the Cabinet Office. The government published a new Governance code which replaces the Commissioner’s Code of Practice for all public appointments processes from 1st January. Peter Riddell has written a recent blog about these changes.

The appointment of the BBC Chair was made under the 2012 Commissioner’s Code as the process started before 1st January.

What if someone wants to make a complaint or has further questions?

Questions or complaints about the appointments process should be referred in the first instance to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport with the right of appeal to the Commissioner for Public Appointments by emailing

Press/media enquiries about this appointment should be referred to the DCMS Press Office on 020 7211 2210 (Out of hours telephone pager 07699 751 153). Enquiries about the Commissioner’s role should be referred to the Commissioner’s Press Officer on 07880 740627.