Welsh and Scottish Governments join forces to express ‘profound concerns’ over process to select Ofcom chair
The Welsh and Scottish governments have joined forces to express over the process to select the next Chair of Ofcom, and how it could have a detrimental impact on public service broadcasting in the UK.
The statement came as former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has pulled out of the contest to become the next chair of media regulator Ofcom.
Ofcom has wide-ranging powers over television and radio, including the ability to revoke the license of a broadcaster it does not believe is following its code of practice. Broadcasting is not devolved to Wales or Scotland but controlled by the UK Government.
In a letter to the UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries, Ministers from both Scotland and Wales have asked to be included in the process and to be given a role that ensures the selected candidate is “someone who can work impartially and independently in the interests of all the nations.”
It has been signed by the Scottish Government’s Culture Secretary Angus Robertson and Finance and Economy Secretary Kate Forbes and the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Arts Dawn Bowden and Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters.
It says both governments are “extremely concerned about the perceived lack of impartiality and transparency of the current appointment processes at Ofcom.”
The letter adds: “Given the importance of public service broadcasting to our nations and the real impact for our nations of any decision on selecting the Ofcom Chair which is not transparent or impartial, we urge you to involve us fully in the process as is right to protect a system which is so important to the public in Scotland and Wales and all the UK.”
It was sent out under embargo shortly before Paul Dacre revealed in a letter to the Times, he said he was not going to re-apply for the role, after his initial application was rejected by a recruitment panel.
In the letter he described his experience as an “infelicitous dalliance with the Blob”. He also claimed that senior Whitehall figures were determined to exclude anyone with right-of-centre “convictions” from being appointed to senior public sector roles.
“To anyone from the private sector, who, God forbid, has convictions, and is thinking of applying for a public appointment, I say the following: the civil service will control (and leak) everything; the process could take a year in which your life will be put on hold; and if you are possessed of an independent mind and are unassociated with the liberal-left, you will have more chance of winning the lottery than getting the job.”