Which? to conduct a governance review after member complaints

Dame Deirdre Hutton will carry out the exercise, which is expected to make final recommendations in time for the charity's annual general meeting in November 2019

The consumer rights charity Which? has appointed the chair of the Civil Aviation Authority to lead a governance review of the organisation.

Dame Deirdre Hutton, who has been chair of the CAA since 2009, will oversee the review, which will look at a number of areas of the organisation. According to a statement from the Consumers' Association, the charity behind the Which? brand, this will include assessing whether its governance structure "achieves the high-level principles and expected outcomes set out in the new charity governance code". 

A 400-strong pressure group has been calling for reforms to the charity to make it more democratic and transparent.

Hutton, who will be paid £35,000 for her work, is expected to conduct the exercise in stages. Draft recommendations are expected to be produced early next year, with final recommendations made in time for the charity’s annual general meeting in November 2019.

Julia Unwin, the former chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who is chairing Civil Society Futures, a two-year review of the future of the voluntary sector in England, has been appointed as an independent member of the review committee.

Tim Gardam, chair of the Consumers’ Association, and three other trustees will also take part in the review.

Two years ago, Third Sector conducted an investigation into the consumer rights charity after some members complained about its governance arrangements and the use of a long-term incentive plan to reward senior executives. In 2016, executives were entitled to bonuses worth a total of £2.24m on top of their annual salaries.

The LTIP was scrapped by the charity last year as part of a wider review of its pay policies.

Asked what prompted the exercise, a spokesman for Which? said: "We are currently in a period of transformation, with the need to stay relevant and independent in an increasingly digital world.

"The review seeks to ensure our governance and ordinary membership arrangements maximise our ability to achieve our charitable and commercial aims."

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