Labour calls for restart of Charity Commission chair selection amid ‘corruption’ concerns

Shadow charities minister Rachael Maskell has called on culture secretary Nadine Dorries to restart the selection process to find the next Charity Commission chair, amid concerns around “government corruption” and “political manipulation”.

The appointment process has been marred by controversy after previous Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden suggested earlier this year that he wanted a chair that would pursue an ‘anti-woke’ agenda, after criticising charities that sought to tackle racism and historic links to slavery.

Dowden’s comments have already sparked a legal challenge by the Good Law Project around ministers seeking to manipulate the recruitment process for the independent role.

During a parliamentary debate Maskell has called for the replacement process to be recommenced due to corruption concerns.

She is also concerned that the previous chair’s appointment was “marked by political manipulation”, after Conservative peer Baroness Stowell was appointed to the role despite objections from MPs sitting on the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee.

Maskell's comments also follow a controversial attempt by the government to clear Conservative MP Owen Paterson after he was found to have broken lobbying rules. Paterson has since resigned.

“As we have repeatedly heard, Government corruption is not restricted” to the House of Commons, said Maskell.

“The public appointments process has led to a litany of political appointments, notably Tory peer Baroness Tina Stowell.”

Maskell is particularly concerned that Conservative Party donor John Booth is leading the appointment process to replace Stowell, who resigned earlier this year. He donated £200,000 to the Party four years ago.

“Will the Secretary of State recommence the appointment process, removing all political interests and ensuring full independence of the appointment panel," added Maskell.

Dorries said that “the process is fair. It is overseen by the Commissioner of Public Appointments and a code of governance”.

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