News story

Preferred candidate for Service Complaints Commissioner announced

The Ministry of Defence today announced the Government’s preferred candidate to succeed Dr Susan Atkins.

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

Ministry of Defence

Nicola Williams, the current Complaints Commissioner for the Cayman Islands, has been selected as the government’s preferred candidate for the post of Service Complaints Commissioner (SCC).

The role of the SCC was established by the Armed Forces Act 2006, as part of a service complaints system which came into effect from 1 January 2008.

The complaints system allows a member of the UK Armed Forces to make a complaint if he or she thinks themselves wronged in a matter relating to their service.

Ms Williams was selected following open competition and a rigorous selection process which was chaired by an independent assessor from the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

The recruitment process was conducted in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies.

Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans Anna Soubry has invited the House of Commons Defence Committee to hold a pre-appointment scrutiny hearing.

Commenting on the announcement, Anna Soubry said:

Nicola Williams is an excellent candidate for this post and I have no doubt she will ensure the armed forces complaints process is working fairly, efficiently and effectively.

The MOD is currently taking a Bill through Parliament to strengthen the role of the Service Complaints Commissioner into that of an Ombudsman.

This will add a powerful, independent voice to the armed forces complaints handling system and ensure all our personnel can have the confidence to raise matters of concern.

Pre-appointment hearings enable select committees to take evidence from preferred candidates for major public appointments before they are appointed.

Hearings are in public and involve the select committee publishing a report setting out their views on the candidate’s suitability for the post.

Pre-appointment hearings are non-binding but Ministers will consider the committee’s views before deciding whether to proceed with an appointment.

All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process.

In accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity (if any declared) to be made public.

Nicola Williams has declared that she has undertaken no political activity in the past 5 years.


Nicola Williams has since 2009, held the post of the Complaints Commissioner for the Cayman Islands, with a remit that extends over 93 government entities.

Since 2009 she has also been a Crown Court Recorder sitting on the London and South Eastern Circuit.

Between 2004 and 2009 she was a Commissioner at the Independent Police Complaints Commission with particular responsibility for Kent, Sussex, the Ministry of Defence Police and part of the Metropolitan Police.

She had previously been a board member at the Police Complaints authority. Between 1985 and 2001 she was a barrister in private practice and specialised in criminal law.

Published 18 November 2014