Acevo chief executive Sir Stephen Bubb has sought assurances from Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood that due process was followed in the reappointment of Charity Commission chair William Shawcross.
Shawcross’s reappointment was announced last week. In a letter to Sir Jeremy Acevo’s chief executive highlights that the position was not due for renewal until October, and argues that the reappointment coming so near to a general election will raise concerns among the public.
The letter asks whether recruitment for the role was made in accordance with the Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies, and whether other candidates were considered.
Sir Stephen also enquires after the membership of the committee that made the appointment, and asks what representations were sought from the Cabinet Office’s Propriety and Ethics Team about the process.
In a statement released alongside publication of the letter, Sir Stephen said the public will have “grave concerns” that the Government has tried to make the appointment “on the quiet” six months early and three months out from the general election.
“The Charity Commission is an important public body. It is not the Cabinet Office’s personal fiefdom. At a time when the Charity Commission has been under sustained and severe criticism, and they are trying to get their act together, this is not what they need. This will only add fuel to the fire of those who accuse the Charity Commission of being a plaything of government patronage, rather than a forceful, independent regulator.”
Shawcross first took the role of Charity Commission chair in October 2012. Last week Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude announced his reappointment with the role expanded from two days a week to three.
His previous roles include as chair of human rights organisation Article 19, board member of International Crisis Group, and member of the Council of the Disasters Emergency Committee.
Shawcross is also a multi published author, writing the official biography of the Queen Mother and books covering the work of aid agencies and international organisations.