Press release

Appointment of Surveillance Commissioners

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The appointments of 4 Surveillance Commissioners and an Assistant Surveillance Commissioner have been approved by the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister has approved the appointments as Surveillance Commissioners of Lord Bonomy with effect from 1 July 2010, Lord MacLean with effect from 1 October 2010, Sir John Sheil with effect from 1 September 2010 and Sir Scott Baker with effect from 1 July 2010.

He has also approved the appointment of Sir David Clarke as an Assistant Surveillance Commissioner, with effect from 1 September 2010.

The appointments will all run for a period of 3 years. 

Biographical Notes

The Hon. Lord Bonomy (64)

Lord Bonomy was appointed a judge in January 1997. From 1998 until 2004 he also held office as a Surveillance Commissioner. Between June 2004 and August 2009 he served as a judge of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. He has been a Senator of the College of Justice since 1997. 

Prior to his appointment to the Bench, Lord Bonomy was a solicitor in litigation-oriented practice (1970 to 1983), an advocate (1984 to 1993) and Queen’s Counsel (1993 to 1996). He also served as an Advocate Depute between 1990 and 1993 and Home Advocate Depute from 1993 until 1996.

The Rt Hon Lord MacLean (71)

The Rt Hon Lord MacLean was a Senator of the College of Justice from 1990 to 2005.  He was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1964 and took Silk in 1977. He was appointed Senator of the College of Justice in 1990 and was elevated to Inner House Judge and appointed to the Privy Council in April 2001.

Whilst a practising Advocate, Lord MacLean was Standing Junior Counsel to the Health and Safety Executive (Scotland) 1975 to 1977 and Home Advocate Depute from 1979 to 1982.

Other public appointments held include Chairman of the Committee on Serious, Violent and Sexual Offenders 1999 to 2000, Member of the Parole Board for Scotland 1998 to 2000 and Chairman of Governors, Fettes College from 1996. Since his retirement in 2005, he has been principally involved in conducting the Billy Wright Inquiry in Northern Ireland.

The Hon Sir John Sheil (71)

The Hon Sir John Sheil was called to the Northern Ireland Bar in 1964 and took Silk in 1975. He was elected a Bencher of the NI Inn of Court in 1988. He served as a judge of the High Court, Northern Ireland, from 1989 to 2004 and as a Lord Justice of Appeal in Northern Ireland from September 2004 to 31 December 2006 when he retired. He was Chairman of the MHRT from 1985 to 1987 and member of the Fair Employment Appeals Board from 1986 to 1989. He is also a member of the British Council.

The Rt Hon Sir Scott Baker (72)

The Rt Hon Sir Scott Baker was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1961. He became a Recorder in 1976, was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1978. He became a Bencher at Middle Temple in 1985.

He was appointed as a High Court judge and allocated to the Family Division moving to the Queen’s Bench Division in 1993. He was Presiding Judge of the Wales and Chester Circuit from 1991 to 1995, a member of the Parole Board from 1999 to 2002 and elevated to the Court of Appeal in 2002. He was a member of the Committee that inquired into human fertilisation in 1982 to 1984, chaired by Mary Warnock, which led to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 and sat as coroner for the inquests into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed in 2007 and 2008. He retired from the Court of Appeal in autumn 2009.

The Hon Sir David Clarke (68)

The Hon Sir David Clarke was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1965 and became a Bencher in 1992. He served as a Recorder from 1981-1993 and was a Circuit Judge from 1993 until 1997. He was appointed as a Senior Circuit Judge and the Honorary Recorder of Liverpool from 1997 to 2003, when he was elevated to the High Court. He served as a Presiding Judge on the Northern Circuit from 2006-2009. He will retire from the Queen’s Bench Division on 1 October 2010.

Notes for Editors

Section 91 of the Police Act 1997 provides for the Prime Minster to appoint Surveillance Commissioners. Commissioners must be persons who hold or have held high judicial office within the meaning of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876.

Section 63 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 provides for the Prime Minister to appoint Assistant Surveillance Commissioners. An Assistant Surveillance Commissioner must be a person who holds, or has held, office as a judge of the Crown Court or a Circuit Judge; a Sheriff in Scotland; or a county court judge in Northern Ireland.

Assistant Surveillance Commissioners are appointed for a three-year period with the possibility of re-appointment. Their functions are in regard to surveillance operations carried out by Police and Customs officers and members of the Serious Organised Crime Agency.