The Conservatives are trying to rig the selection of a new chairman for communications regulator Ofcom.
They want to install former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre, even though he has already been through the selection process and was rejected.
The interview panel deemed him “not appointable” a few months ago – so the Tories have taken time out to appoint a new panel member: Michael Simmonds, a former Conservative Party advisor who is married to Conservative MP Nick Gibb (and therefore brother-in-law to BBC board member Sir Robbie Gibb, himself a former Downing Street comms chief under Theresa May).
In fact, the interview panel’s connections with the Conservatives are multiple (and therefore extremely suspicious). See the Guardian article (link below) for further details.
They have also rewritten the job description.
Nothing to see here. Just a former Tory adviser married to a Tory MP and brother-in-law of former Tory communications chief installed on panel to interview Tory candidate Paul Dacre for Ofcom. #ToryCorruption https://t.co/dwDRqd15H1
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) November 10, 2021
The intention seems clear – as the Good Law Project states in its article (link below): “When Boris Johnson doesn’t like the outcome of an official process, he tries to rip up the rules and start again.
“Ministers… are now shamelessly pushing to appoint Mr Dacre by adjusting the requirements of the role and re-running the recruitment process with a different interview panel.”
We've written to Government saying it should expect to get sued if it shoehorns its own man in as 'independent' regulator of broadcast media. https://t.co/Sjn458o5JR
— Jo Maugham (@JolyonMaugham) November 11, 2021
Lawyers acting for the Good Law Project have written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who has the ultimate say over the appointment, stating that this “second competition raises very serious concerns, in particular as to whether it has been held, and designed, in order to favour Mr Dacre’s candidacy”. And they have a point.
Ofcom should be independent of both the Government and the services it regulates. The appointment process must follow the rules of the Governance Code for Public Appointments: whoever is hired should be selected on merit, through an open and fair process.
The Governance Code for Public Appointments does allow for Ministers to appoint someone who is not deemed “appointable” by the Assessment Panel. But there are safeguards built into the Governance Code: they must first consult the Commissioner for Public Appointments, and they are required to explain their reasons and justify their decision publicly.
“The reason why Ofcom must remain independent of Government is the same reason the media must remain independent of Government: neither can do their job if they are in the Government’s pocket,” states the GLP in its article.
“We’re asking the Secretary of State to explain why the competition for Chair is being rerun and why Mr Dacre is being allowed to reapply.”
Unfortunately, the Culture Secretary is Nadine Dorries.
The GLP says it wants proper answers but is hardly likely to get any from her.
It is threatening court action if it doesn’t get them.
You can help… try… to change Dorries’s mind – by signing a petition calling on Dorries not to appoint Dacre.
Add your name to the petition if you agree Paul Dacre has no business being the chair of Ofcom ⤵️ https://t.co/S5HyLyNOaQ pic.twitter.com/WDzE4PLhjT
— Good Law Project (@GoodLawProject) November 11, 2021
Also the video is worth watching.
In honesty, this will probably end up in court. The Tories want to dismantle the BBC – despite having stuffed it with their own people – and they know Dacre will help them do it.
But this would be blatant government interference in an organisation that should be independent.
And it needs to be fought.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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