Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, has described the appointment of Kenneth Dibble to the board of the Charity Commission as "poor governance".
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced yesterday that Dibble, the long-standing legal director at the commission, would relinquish his executive role in March and become its new legal board member.
In a statement today, Etherington said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the move and the commission would not look kindly on a similar appointment at one of the charities it regulated.
"This is poor governance," he said. "The Charity Commission is rightly concerned with improving governance standards and procedures in charities. It would frown upon such an appointment in one of the charities it regulates.
"This appointment does a disservice to the commission’s authority and credibility as a regulator in matters related to governance."
The appointment process for the position was managed entirely by the DCMS.
The commission has been criticised for its handling of a number of legal cases in recent years. These include the action it took against the Human Dignity Trust and its decision to call on the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Roddick Foundation to never again fund the controversial advocacy organisation Cage.
A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: "Kenneth will relinquish his executive role in advance of joining the commission’s board.
"Going forward, the board as a whole, with the support of the commission’s corporate office and in line with the code for board members of public bodies, will carefully manage any potential conflict that might arise from Kenneth’s previous role on the executive.
"This might include Kenneth recusing himself from discussions on issues in which he was previously closely involved as director of legal services."
The DCMS was unable to provide a comment before publication of this article.