Appointment of HM CPS Chief Inspector - Justice Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1.  On 10 December 2009 the Attorney General informed us that Mr Michael Fuller, Chief Constable of Kent, was her preferred candidate for the post of Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service; and she invited us to report on his suitability for the role.[1] This appointment is the third we have scrutinized under the initiative to extend parliamentary oversight and improve the accountability of key public appointments. The first was the Chair of the Office of Legal Complaints and the second was a new Information Commissioner.[2]

2.   The timing of this appointment was fortuitous as we had recently published our findings in relation to the work of the Crown Prosecution Service.[3] In preparation for the hearing, we took further oral evidence from the current Chief Inspector, Mr Stephen Wooler CB, on 8 December 2009 and subsequently conducted a pre-appointment hearing with Mr Fuller on 12 January 2010. This evidence, together with relevant memoranda, is published with this report, and it indicates the wide range of matters with which the Inspectorate will need to concern itself and suggested priorities in doing so.

1   Pre-appointment hearings were recommended in the Liaison's Committee's report Shifting the Balance Sheet: Select Committees and the Executive published in 2000 (HC 384, 2007-08). Although the idea was initially rejected by the Government, the July 2007 Governance of Britain Green Paper contained a proposal for select committee scrutiny of prospective appointments in the following terms: "…the hearing would be non-binding, but in the light of the report from the [relevant select] committee the Minister would decide whether to proceed. The hearings would cover issues such as the candidate's suitability for the role, his or her key priorities, and the process used in selection…" (HC 594, Annex A, 2007-08).

A list of posts proposed by the Government as suitable for pre-appointment scrutiny was published by the Liaison Committee in 2008. A list of the appointments that come under the aegis of the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney-General's Office is annexed to this report (Annex B) and includes HM Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service. Back

2   Seventh Report from the Committee, Session 2007-08, Appointment of the Chair of the Office of Legal Complaints, HC 1122, and the Third Report from the Committee, Session 2008-09, The work of the Information Commissioner: appointment of a new Commissioner, HC 146. Back

3   Ninth Report from the Committee, Session 2008-09, The Crown Prosecution Service: Gatekeeper of the Criminal Justice System, HC 186. Back

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Prepared 1 February 2010