Downing Street over-rules MPs to install former Tory minister as charity watchdog chief

Posted On: 
21st February 2018

A former Tory minister will be appointed as the new head of the charity watchdog despite a cross-party group of MPs calling for the move to be blocked.

Tina Stowell's appointment was unanimously opposed by the culture, media and sport committee.
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The Culture, Media and Sport Committee unanimously agreed that Baroness Stowell, the former leader of the Conservatives in the House of Lords, should not become chair of the Charity Commission.

In a letter to Culture Secretary Matt Hancock, committee chair Damian Collins said: "Baroness Stowell has little more than six months of negligible charity sector experience, and a complete lack of experience of working for a regulatory body."

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He added that "her political past is a source of concern for the Committee and those within the charity sector", meaning she was unsuitable for the £62,500 a year role.

Representatives of the charity sector had also expressed their concerns at the appointment.

But a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "[Baroness Stowell] has the full backing of the Government and will become chair of the Charity Commission.

"We have no doubt she is the right person for the job and nothing has changed our view.

"It's important to maintain the principle that chairs of regulators can come from outside the sector they are regulating."

The spokesman added that the Oxfam scandal "shows the importance of having a strong chair who is independent of the sector".

At her pre-appointment hearing in front of the committee, Baroness Stowell, who was leader of the Tories in the Lords until 2016, conceded she had “limited experience” of the voluntary sector.

She also rejected the suggestion that she had only taken up recent charity posts in order to boost her CV for the charity commission role.