William Shawcross, chair of the Charity Commission, has said there will be no political interference in the appointment of its new chief executive, and that he himself had not shown any party political preference in his time at the regulator.
Shawcross, who was giving evidence to the Public Administration Select Committee in Westminster this morning, was asked by Greg Mulholland, the Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West, about alleged political interference in public appointments, following comments made by Baroness Sally Morgan, the outgoing Ofsted chair, last weekend.
Morgan had claimed that political motivations had been behind a number of top government appointments at public bodies, including the Charity Commission.
But Shawcross told MPs on the committee this morning that the civil servant heading the appointment committee would "absolutely not allow" any political interference in the recruitment process.
He also said he hoped that the MPs scrutinising the regulator on the PASC would not have perceived any political partiality in him.
"I hope you would agree that that isn’t the case," he said. "I try to run this organisation in the way it should be run and in a non-partisan way. I have not been part of a political party for a very long while, and I cannot think of anything I have done that would be construed in such a way."
Three members of the PASC, including Mulholland, had objected to Shawcross’s appointment as chair of the commission in 2012 because they said he could not be considered to be politically impartial. They cited an article he had written in 2010 saying the Conservatives were the only hope for Britain.
The committee also heard today that the recruitment firm hiring the new chief executive was being paid a fee of £23,000 and that one applicant, who the commission had seen as a strong candidate, had withdrawn from the process because he considered the £123,000 salary too low.