Press release

Charity Commission Chair appointed

William Shawcross CVO has been appointed as the new Chair of the Charity Commission.

7 September 2012
CAB 093-12  

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude has appointed William Shawcross CVO as the new Chair of the Charity Commission.

Following his selection as preferred candidate, Mr Shawcross attended a pre-appointment hearing with the Public Administration Select Committee to discuss his suitability for the role. The committee were satisfied that he has both the professional skills and independence necessary to fulfil this role successfully.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said:

I am pleased to announce that William has been appointed to this important role. William has long been involved in the charity sector, particularly in human rights and international aid. His writings have helped shape the debate on the accountability of humanitarian organisations. He brings strong leadership skills, broad knowledge and experience of the sector, and intellectual ability to the Charity Commission, which acts as the independent and impartial regulator of the charity sector.

I would also like to thank John Wood, who has served as interim Chair of the Charity Commission while the recruitment process has been ongoing.

William Shawcross CVO, the new Chair of the Charity Commission said:

It is a huge privilege and honour to be chosen as the new Chair of the Charity Commission and I am delighted to be taking up this role. Our charitable sector is one of the great strengths of this country, and I am excited about the challenge that lies ahead.

William Shawcross will take up his post at the Charity Commission on 1 October 2012.

Notes for Editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent registrar and regulator of charities in England and Wales. Its mission is to be the independent registrar and regulator of charities, acting in the public’s interest, to ensure that:
    • charities know what they have to do;
    • the public know what charities do;
    • charities are held to account.
  2. The Minister for the Cabinet Office is responsible for appointments to the Board of the Charity Commission for England and Wales, and the recruitment for a new Chair of the Charity Commission has been conducted in compliance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies under the principles of merit, fairness and openness. 

  3. Pre-appointment scrutiny hearings enable select committees to take evidence from the Government’s preferred candidate for certain key public appointments prior to the final appointment decision. Hearings are in public and involve the select committee publishing a report setting out their views on the candidate’s suitability for the post.

  4. The role was advertised on the public appointments website and the Sunday Times appointments website. It was also highlighted on the Charity Commission’s website and Strategic Partners of the Office for Civil Society were invited to disseminate details of the recruitment to their members. In-house search expertise was also used to attract a strong field of applicants.

  5. In line with standard selection processes, the recruitment for this role was rigorous and impartial. The selection panel was chaired by Mark Addison (an independent Public Appointments Assessor representing the Commissioner for Public Appointments). The other panel members were Lynne Berry OBE (trustee of the Canal and River Trust and former Chief Executive of WRVS), Sue Gray (Head of Propriety and Ethics, Cabinet Office) and Lord Bew (Crossbench Peer and academic).

  6. The term of appointment is for three years, with the possibility of re-appointment for a second term.  The role is for two days per week, remunerated at £50,000 per year. It is not pensionable.  The reduction in the time commitment was proposed by the Charity Commission itself, and reflects a narrower focus on its core regulatory functions as set out in its strategic plan. The primary role of the Commission is as a registrar and regulator for charities in England and Wales.

  7. William Shawcross is a renowned writer and broadcaster with broad experience relevant to the charity sector, particularly in human rights and international aid. He began his career in journalism in Czechoslovakia in 1968, and then worked as a war correspondent in South East Asia for the Sunday Times. His articles have been published widely in the UK and the United States and elsewhere. He has also lectured on geopolitics, South East Asia, refugees, the media and Al Qaeda. He was Chairman of Article 19 from 1986 to 1996; a board member of the International Crisis Group from 1995 to 2005; and a member of the Council of the Disasters Emergency Committee from 1997 to 2002.

  8. William Shawcross has declared that he is not a member of any political party, although he had in the past been a Labour Party supporter and has canvassed on behalf of various political parties.

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