The Commissioner for Public Appointments

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Chair of the BBC Trust (1 September 2014)

How was the new Chair of the BBC Trust appointed?

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

This means that the appointment process must be conducted in line with the Commissioner’s 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]

Was the process really open?

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 Trust 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. In addition, significant media coverage of the role was generated through a press release.

Who was on the appointments panel?

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 Mark Addison. The other panel members were Sir Jeremy Heywood, Carolyn Fairbairn, and Professor the Lord Kakkar.

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 Trust 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 if someone has further questions or is unhappy about the process?

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.

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