I have now received a response from Jesse Norman MP, Chair of the Media, Culture and Sport Select Committee, explaining why they will not be taking any action on my report of the corrupt appointment of Rona Fairhead to the Chair of the BBC Trust. Judging by this response it appears that he hasn’t even read my blog, Smoking Gun, as he has not dealt with any of the issues. The email is here with my annotations in red.
Dear Mr Wilson,
I understand the Committee staff wrote back quickly to acknowledge your email of October 27th,[they did not, they only acknowledged my email after I had phoned them and asked them to do so] and I am sorry not to have replied to the substance of the email before now.
You suggest that the appointment of Rona Fairhead was irregular. On that issue, the facts are as follows.
The appointment took place in the last parliament. The then Committee was aware of the role of Saxton Bampfylde and that Rona Fairhead’s name had not been mentioned in the press speculation about the shortlist.
[why is there no explanation for this lack of speculation?] [Were they aware that the DCMS did not comply with its usual practice in inviting tenders for the recruitment process?]
There was a hearing with Ms Fairhead on 9 September 2014 at which Committee members had, and took, the opportunity to question Ms Fairhead over any aspect of her views and experience, as well as over the process of her appointment. [The committee at that time did not have the full facts of the appointment, as disclosed in this blog]
As the Committee report noted at the time, an independent public appointments assessor stated that he was satisfied that the competition met the requirements of the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies. The Cabinet Secretary also sat in on the process. [Why is this the only public service appointment where the Commissioner has stressed that it followed the rules? Saxton Bampfylde also had the same text on their website. Why? Why would anyone doubt the appointment was regular?]
Following its hearing, the then Committee stated that it was satisfied that the appointment was conducted according to the rules for such appointments. [It didn’t look into the appointment, it assessed Ms Fairhead’s suitability for the job]
In these circumstances, my Committee does not intend to revisit the circumstances of Ms Fairhead’s appointment. [Revisit? It has never looked into it ]
It may also be that the BBC Trust will be abolished as a result of the current review of the BBC Charter. If so, and if Ms Fairhead applied again for a similar role in a new governing body and under a revised regulatory framework, it might well be appropriate to review that appointment in the normal way.