Government lines up interim replacement for Charity Commission chair

The government will appoint an interim chair of the Charity Commission while a long-term successor to Baroness Stowell is sought, it has emerged.

The Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport told Third Sector that it had not begun advertising for Stowell’s long-term replacement, despite her announcing in October that she would step down at the end of February.

The department said the long-term role would be advertised shortly and an announcement would be made in the coming weeks about an interim chair to cover the period between Stowell’s departure and a new chair taking up the position.

Stowell, who took up the role in February 2018, revealed that she would not stand for a second term during a podcast interview in October 2020.

She said it had been a privilege to serve in the role, but did not give a reason for her decision to not seek a second term.

When asked on the podcast about her time as chair of the commission, Stowell said: “I’ve been quite challenging of the charity sector, and I make no apology for that, because I care very much about all that it achieves.”

DCMS said the recruitment of a new chair for the Charity Commission would be through a fair and open competition, in line with the Governance Code for Public Appointments.

Stowell’s own appointment to the role was controversial because the DCMS select committee at the time voted unanimously that she should not be appointed, citing concerns about her lack of charity sector experience and her political neutrality, and because she failed to stand up to scrutiny when questioned by the committee.

It was the first time a DCMS committee had not approved a government-backed candidate.

But Matt Hancock, the then-culture secretary, decided to press ahead with the appointment.

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