New appointments to Charity Commission board

Senior figures from Amnesty International and Leonard Cheshire Disability to join regulator

Irene Khan, secretary general of Amnesty International, and John Knight, director of policy and campaigns at Leonard Cheshire Disability, have been appointed by the Office of the Third Sector as Charity Commission board members.

Knight, a Third Sector columnist until last month, will replace John Williams when his term ends in January. Knight also sits on the Office of the Third Sector's advisory board and has previously served on various other government commissions.

Khan, who will replace Tess Woodcraft, worked for 20 years at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees before becoming secretary general of the international human rights organisation's international secretariat in 2001. She will stand down from Amnesty at the end of the year.

Amnesty International UK has a separate director, Kate Allen, and is involved in continuing discussions with the Charity Commission about its charitable status. It has a charitable arm, whose purpose is the promotion of human rights, but its campaigning arm is not deemed to be charitable because its object of attempting to secure the release of prisoners of conscience is regarded by the UK courts as being inherently political.

A commission spokeswoman said any conflicts of interest at board level would be identified: "Clearly, for a regulator managing thousands of cases each year, it is fairly routine for board members, executive directors and members of staff to declare an interest in a charity with which they have had some form of association.

"Where a conflict of interest is identified, this is managed in line with our governance framework in order to maintain the independence of our decision-making process."


Dame Suzi Leather, chair of the commission, welcomed Knight's "extensive knowledge of policy development, campaigning, experience of regulation and his specialist understanding of disability issues".

Khan would bring "exceptional understanding of the complex national and international context in which charities and other non-governmental bodies operate", she added.

Both appointments are for a three-year term, and come with a salary of £350 a day for a minimum of two days' work a month.




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