MP calls for review into public appointments

Susan Elan Jones MP has signed a letter to Commissioner for Public Appointments Peter Riddell calling on him to explain how controversial appointee Toby Young was put on the board of the Office for Students.  

The letter has been now signed by more than 60 opposition MPs.

Susan Elan Jones MP said:

“People who hold public appointments need to be of the highest calibre and should also uphold decent ethical standards. However, five minutes spent searching on Google would have linked Toby Young to some really offensive comments against a whole range of people. It was only because so many people complained that he had to stand down.

“Most people in our area would have lost their jobs for saying far less than Toby Young did and I and other MPs want to know how he was even considered to be a board member of the Office for Students in the first place.

“I welcome the fact that on hearing of our the letter, the Commissioner for Public Appointments has said he is looking into the appointment of Toby Young. However, it’s vital we also get  a

thorough review into the whole process of all the appointments to the board of the Office for Students.”

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See below for text of letter from Susan Elan Jones MP and other opposition MPs to the Commissioner for Public Appointments

“We the undersigned are writing to you to request that an inquiry be carried out into the appointment process for the board of the Office for Students, of which the final non-executive members were announced on 1 January this year.

We ask that in your role as the Commissioner for Public Appointments, such an inquiry assures Parliament and the public that the Department for Education acted in accordance with the Governance Code on Public Appointments, including the Principles of Public Appointments.

As we understand, The Secretary of State for Education is responsible for appointments to the board, and that the appointment panel provided the Secretary of State with candidates deemed “appointable”. Responding to a question in the House of Commons on 8 January this year, Jo Johnson MP stated that Toby Young, one of the successful candidates, was deemed appointable by the panel. Could you confirm that all candidates selected for the board were also deemed “appointable”?

In particular, we would like to draw the attention of the investigation to the principles of integrity, merit, openness and fairness that all public appointment processes must follow. Did all persons involved in the process – Ministers, the appointments panel, and the applicants – properly declare any interests or relationships they had that might impact the appointment? Was the process made properly transparent both for the public and for all potential applicants? Was the process completely fair and impartial and was each candidate assessed against the same criteria?

Furthermore, we would like to know how, in deciding which candidates were “appointable” or not, the panel applied the published selection criteria for the role. These included a commitment to and understand of the seven principles of public life and high standards of corporate and personal conduct.

We appreciate that you have written a post on the Commissioner for Public Appointment’s blog regarding the appointment and subsequent resignation of Toby Young, in order to address some of the public concerns regarding his suitability. However we do feel that there remain serious concerns over the entire process of appointments to the board of the Office for Students that are worthy of further investigation.

We look forward to hearing from you, and please do get in contact if there is any way in which we can assist with this request”