Member of selection panel says Stowell was the 'outstanding candidate'

Julia Unwin, chair of the Independent Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society, says the Conservative peer Baroness Stowell was selected by a 'rigorous and fair' process to be chair of the Charity Commission

Julia Unwin
Julia Unwin

Julia Unwin, part of the selection panel for the next Charity Commission chair, has defended its decision to recommend Baroness Stowell for the role and said she was the "outstanding candidate on the day".

Unwin, who is chair of the Independent Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society and was one of four panel members charged by the government to choose a preferred candidate to succeed William Shawcross as chair of the regulator, said on Twitter yesterday that she believed the process that led to Stowell’s selection was both "rigorous and fair".

She said six "strong shortlisted candidates" had been interviewed for the position.

Unwin rejected a claim by Andrew Hind, a former chief executive of the Charity Commission, that the panel had preferred another candidate to Stowell with more regulatory and charity leadership experience.

"Tina Stowell was the outstanding candidate on the day and we were unanimous in our recommendation," said Unwin.

Matt Hancock, the culture secretary, announced yesterday that he would appoint the Conservative peer to lead the commission’s board, even though a cross-party committee of MPs had said she should not take up the role because they were concerned by her lack of experience of the voluntary sector.

Hancock’s decision led to criticism from voluntary sector bodies. Steve Reed, the shadow minister for civil society, wrote to the Commissioner for Public Appointments to ask him to investigate the process.

Unwin, who spent 10 years as chief executive of the policy and research charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, is about halfway through chairing a two-year inquiry into the future of the sector.

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