Appointment of the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents


Appendix A: Letter to Rt Hon Sir Alan Beith MP, Chair of the Liaison Committee, from Lynne Featherstone MP, Minister for Equalities, Home Office

As Minister for Equalities and Criminal Information, I am writing to inform you of the forthcoming process to appoint a new Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), and to seek your view on which Committee should perform the pre-appointment scrutiny. The current Chair's appointment ends on 11September 2012. However, we regret that there is likely to be a gap between the current Chair standing down and a permanent successor taking post. We will obviously move as swiftly as possible to ensure any potential gap is minimal. This is due to a delay in finalising our wider reforms to the EHRC. I should be grateful for your support in this matter.

In line with departmental guidance, which states that in the majority of cases it will be the relevant departmental select committee which will scrutinise the appointment, my officials had presumed that the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) would be responsible for this, but were advised by the Clerk to HASC that, as the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) also has an interest, it is for the Liaison Committee to decide which committee should scrutinise the appointment. We would of course wish to avoid potential appointees having to face two pre-appointment hearings by different committees. A suggested way forward could be for HASC and JCHR to hold a joint pre-appointment hearing.

The Home Office has engaged Gatenby Sanderson to administer the selection process, working with Home Office officials. An appointments panel, which includes a Public Appointments Assessor, has also been established, in line with the Commissioner for Public Appointments' Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies. The panel will provide the Home Secretary and me with a selection of appointable candidates. Once we have made a decision on the preferred candidate, that candidate will be put forward to the appropriate Committee for the pre-appointment hearing.

Once we have confirmation of how the scrutiny for this post will be handled, my officials will liaise with the relevant Clerk to take this forward. Given the tight timescales for commencing the recruitment campaign, I am copying this letter to the Chairs of both HASC and JCHR and also taking the opportunity to seek their views on the selection criteria and publicity strategy at Annex A and the indicative timetable at Annex B, in particular the proposed timing of the pre-appointment scrutiny process.

Annex A

Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission

Selection criteria—essential skills to be tested at interview

  • A commitment to, and knowledge or experience of, equality and human rights.
  • Substantial leadership experience in a senior role in the public, private or voluntary sector and a track record of successful delivery.
  • Board experience in an organisation of similar complexity, and a track record of leading and managing significant change.
  • A keen sense of impartial and independent judgement with the ability to differentiate and weigh up competing arguments and draw sound conclusions capable of justification under close scrutiny.
  • Outstanding relationship-building skills, with the ability to differentiate and weigh up competing arguments and draw sound conclusions capable of justification under close scrutiny.
  • A demonstrable ability to operate effectively and comfortably in the media spotlight as the face of the EHRC.
  • High standards of corporate and personal conduct—able to demonstrate a sound understanding of and commitment to public service values, act impartially and uphold the independence of the organisation.

Publicity strategy

  • Gatenby Sanderson to act as recruitment agency, draft the advert and make arrangements to advertise the post, using the Commissioner's kitemark on all publicity material.
  • To advertise on the Cabinet Office public appointments website.
  • To advertise in the Sunday Times (with confirmed good coverage in Scotland and Wales).
  • To circulate the post widely using Government Equalities Office networks.
  • To seek views from relevant Ministers on likely candidates.
  • To state in all publicity relating to the post that the appointment is subject to a pre-appointment hearing by a parliamentary Select Committee.

Annex B

Timetable for EHRC Chair Recruitment
DateActivity Comment
29 March to 4 May Purdah (Local and Central)
Friday 4 MayGatenby Sanderson book space in Sunday Times, organise artwork
Friday 7 May Early May Holiday
Friday 11 MayPublish Advert on Public Appointments website
Friday 11 MayAdvert to GEO networks
Sunday 13 May Agency to publish advert in Sunday Times. 4 week window for applications
24 May-11 June Whitsun Recess 4 June Spring Holiday

5 June Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Mon 11 JuneClosing date
12-15 JunePaper sift of applications
18-19 JuneLonglist meeting
25-28 JuneGatenby Sanderson conduct screening interviews with candidates
17 July-3 September Summer Recess 27 Aug Summer Bank Holiday
5 or 6 JulyShortlist meeting with Panel to agree final candidates for interview
23-25 JulyInterviews to select appointable candidates
30 JulySubmission—Report to Ministers
4 SeptHome Secretary writes to Chair of Select Committee announcing HMG's approved candidate After recess
5 SeptPre-employment checks begin
11 Sept-2 OctPublic Appointments Pre-Appointment Scrutiny 3 week window
9 OctoberSelect Committee report on hearing
15 OctoberHMG confirms successful candidate subject to Select Committee Report
22 OctoberCandidate takes up appointment

Appendix B: Job Advertisement for the Chair of the EHRC

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)


Appointing Department: Home Office—Government Equalities Office

Number of vacancies: one

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was established in 2007 as a statutory body to help eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect human rights across England, Scotland and Wales. The Commission is accredited by the United Nations as the independent body responsible for monitoring the human rights situation in Britain, including compliance with international human rights commitments, working in partnership with the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

Vacancy description:

£130k per annum, pro rata for up to 2 days a week (this equates to up to £56K per annum). The Equality and Human Rights Commission currently has offices in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Scotland and Wales.

There has never been a more important time for the EHRC. We are seeking a strong, strategic Chair who will lead and develop the Board, setting the Commission's overall direction to reflect its core role as an independent equality body and National Human Rights Institution.

You will position the EHRC to deliver its challenging remit, providing decisive leadership to drive up performance. You will ensure that robust governance arrangements are in place to support the EHRC's evidence-based approach, and work with the Board, Chief Executive and staff in developing organisational capacity and capability in response to the Government's wish to see significant reform and refocusing. Accountable to the Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, you will develop and maintain high-value relationships and alliances with Ministers, influential partners, governments at home and abroad, opinion formers, industry and others, demonstrating judgement, integrity and resilience in the face of challenge.

The successful candidate will have Board-level experience in an organisation of similar complexity, and a track record of leading and managing significant change in the public, private or voluntary sectors. An appreciation of the workings of government will be important, and you will also have a demonstrable ability to build strategic partnerships and be the public face of an organisation. You will have commitment to, and knowledge or experience of, equality and human rights. This is a unique opportunity to drive the debate forward in an area of enormous complexity and importance to Britain.

Essential skills and experience

  • A commitment to, and knowledge or experience of, equality and human rights.
  • Significant senior leadership experience gained at board level in the public, private or voluntary sectors.
  • A successful track record of leading and managing significant change.
  • A keen sense of impartial and independent judgement, with the ability to differentiate and weigh up competing arguments and draw sound conclusions capable of justification under close scrutiny.
  • Outstanding relationship building skills, with the ability to command respect, build networks quickly, and work with and through others to achieve objectives.
  • A demonstrable ability to operate effectively and comfortably in the media spotlight as the public face of the EHRC.
  • High standards of integrity in both corporate and personal conduct—able to demonstrate a sound understanding of, and commitment to, public service values.

Pre-appointment scrutiny

  • This appointment is subject to a pre-appointment hearing by a Parliamentary Select Committee. The preferred candidate for the post of Chair of the EHRC may therefore be required to appear before the appropriate Parliamentary Select Committee prior to appointment. This hearing would be open to the public and would involve MPs questioning the candidate on his or her suitability for the post.

Eligibility and conflict of interest

  • There are circumstances in which an individual will not be considered for appointment. These include where the individual:
    • has received a prison sentence or suspended sentence of 3 months or more in the last 5 years;
    • is the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order;
    • has had an earlier term of appointment terminated (in certain circumstances);
    • is under a disqualification order under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986;
    • has been removed from trusteeship of a charity.
  • You will be required to declare any personal or business interests, positions of authority or other connections with commercial, public or voluntary bodies which may, or may be perceived to, influence your judgments in performing your duties. Any actual or perceived conflicts of interest will be fully explored by the panel at short listing or interview stage.

Closing date: Monday 18 June

Interviews start: Mid July

How to apply:

For further details about the role please visit For an informal confidential discussion about the role please contact our advising consultants Juliet Taylor on 0207 426 3990 or Mark Turner on 0207 426 3983.

This post is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

We welcome applicants from all sections of society regardless of sex, gender reassignment, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, age, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, caring responsibilities, part-time working or other status.

Appendix C: Letter from Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, to Dr Hywel Francis, Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, 1 October 2012

Lynne Featherstone wrote you on 22 May about the pre-appointment scrutiny hearing for the new Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). At the time, responsibility for Equality lay with the Home Office and as a consequence it was agreed that the pre-appointment hearing would be heard jointly by your Committee and the Home Affairs Select Committee. I want to thank you for agreeing to this.

As responsibility for the Equality and Human Rights Commission has now moved from the Home Office to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, my officials liaised with the Clerks to the relevant Committees about which Committees now have an interest in this appointment and are best placed to hold the hearing. I understand that the position reached is that the Joint Committee on Human Rights will conduct the pre-appointment scrutiny hearing on its own.

I am also writing to provide an update on the Chair recruitment. The selection panel carried out the recruitment process in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments' Code 2012 and, following interviews, recommended two candidates who had met the selection criteria for the post. Before making my decision, I met both candidates on 26 September. I have chosen Baroness Onora O'Neill as my preferred candidate to be Chair of the EHRC and therefore to progress to the pre-appointment scrutiny stage. I am attaching her CV for your information. Baroness O'Neill has been informed and is aware that she will need to appear before your Committee for pre-appointment scrutiny on 16 October at 10.30am.

My officials in the Government Equalities Office will liaise with your Clerks to ensure that you have everything you need in good time before the hearing.

I look forward to receiving your Report following the scrutiny session.

I am copying this letter to Sir Alan Beith, Chair of the Liaison Committee and John Whittingdale, Chair of Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

1 October 2012

Appendix D: Curriculum Vitae: Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve, June 2012

Professor Onora O'Neill CBE FBA Hon FRS F Med Sci  

(Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve)


Born 23rd August 1941, Aughafatten, Northern Ireland.

UK citizen. Two sons. both married with children

Address: [...]

Phone: [...}


St Paul's Girls' School, London, 1953-8; Foundation Scholar.

Somerville College, Oxford, 1959-62; Coombes Scholar;

BA Hons 1st class, Philosophy, Psychology and Physiology, June 1962.

Harvard University, 1963-68; GSAS Scholarships, 1963-64, 1964-65 PhD 1969, (supervisor John Rawls) Universalisability; Carrier prize for dissertation.

Academic Appointments:

1970-77  Assistant then Associate Professor, Barnard College, Columbia University.

1977-92  Lecturer, later Professor, University of Essex.

1992-2006  Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge and since 2003 Honorary Professor of Philosophy, Cambridge University.

For Publications See Separate List[2] (8 books; some 120 journal articles; lots of occasional pieces mostly on matters of public policy; I remain research active)

Political Life:

Member of House of Lords since 1999; independent cross bench peer.

Select Committees: Science and Technology, Stem Cell Research 2002-03; BBC Charter Review 2005-06; Science and Technology, Genomic Medicine 2008-09; Science and Technology, Nanosciences and Food, 2009-10; Science and Technology, Behavioural Change, 2010-11.

Subcommittee on Lords' Conduct (previously Lords' Interests) since 2010

Administrative and Committee Responsibilities

At University of Essex between 1977 and 1992:

Chair, Department of Philosophy; member Senate; University Council for various periods between 1979 and 1992—also numerous other committees.

At Cambridge University:

Member University Press Syndicate, University Council, University Finance Committee for various periods between 1993 and 2004—also numerous other committees.

Newnham College: 1992-2006, Chair, Governing Body, Council, Finance Committee, and Investments Committee and numerous other committees.

Nuffield Foundation: 1997-2010: Chair, Trustees, Finance, Investments, and numerous other committees.

British Academy; Chair Council and numerous other committees 2005-09, since when reduced commitments.

Selected Further Public and Charitable Responsibilities since 1990:

1990-94  Animal Procedures Committee, Home Office

1991-98  Nuffield Council on Bioethics (Chair 96-8)

1993-99  Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission

1996-04 Trustee, Isaac Newton Trust

1996-99  Human Genetics Advisory Commission (Acting Chair 1999)

1996-    Executive Committee, British Irish Association

2000-09  Trustee, Gates Cambridge Trust

2004-    Trustee, Sense About Science

2004-    Trustee, American University of Sharjah

2004-    Trustee, PHG Foundation

2012    Member of Council, MRC

Honorary Elections:

I have some 25 Honorary degrees, am a member or corresponding fellow of a number of overseas national academies, an Honorary Bencher of Gray's Inn, an Honorary Fellow, Faulty of Actuaries, 2006 and an Honorary member of the Royal Statistical Society.

June 2012

Appendix E: The statement submitted by Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve with her application for the position of Chair of the EHRC

Equality and human rights matter, and their progress depends on a combination of policies, remedies and culture. In my view it is of central importance for EHRC to focus on those equalities that can be furthered in ways that are compatible with and support respect for human rights, and to seek and communicate robust evidence both about outcomes and about procedures in both areas. Fairness matters to and for the public, who should expect fair treatment for individuals of all backgrounds, and good communication of the basis on which decisions are made.

1.  I have a long experience of equality and human rights matters of two sorts.

First, I write and publish in ethics and political philosophy, and have done so since writing my Ph D under the late John Rawls, the best known theorist of justice of the last half century. (If the system for uploading permits and additional document I will provide my publication list to illustrate the range of topics on which I have written; if not it is available upon request). Second, I have a wide range of practical experience running from chairing appointments, grievance and disciplinary committees for a number of institutions, to dealing with equality and discrimination issues in the context of university admissions, to more specialised work on questions of discrimination, genetics and the use of personal data.

2.  My leadership experience has been mainly in the university and voluntary sectors, and is quite diverse. I have chaired boards for many years, have had fruitful working relations with a number of CEOs and understand the difference of roles well. I have asked Mr Anthony Tomei, Director of the Nuffield Foundation, to be a referee, both because I was his chair for a total of 12 years, and because the Foundation has commitments to many initiatives that bear on equality and human rights.

3.   No institution stands still, and I think that the changes that I led were most marked at Newnham College and the British Academy—both self-governing institutions in which Fellows collectively determine policy, which can (notoriously!) be problematic if the Chair lacks the ability to command confidence, listen well and resolve conflict. Examples of changes: greater financial independence; changes to governance structures; major additions to premises; better outward links and more public policy engagement; a collaborative style of work in both contexts.

4.  Careful judgement and a respect for arguments, and for those who put them forward, has been my mainstay in a career spanning academic work, administration, public policy and the charitable sector. I retain considerable faith in the power of argument and in the willingness of most people to respond when evidence is clear and properly presented. When chairing I rarely use a vote to resolve deadlocks—and never as an alternative to exploring issues or taking others seriously. In my experience, a collegial style of decision making is ultimately more efficient, provided that the preparation of issues and papers is good and forward planning effective.

5.   I have worked with an enormous variety of people on many different projects, and am sufficiently interested in them to find it enjoyable. I constantly encounter new fields, people and projects and get to know them rapidly. My style is generally collaborative and I have long since learned to let others take credit for whatever an institution achieves.

6.  I am comfortable with public and media attention, while having few illusions that the latter will always get the right end of the stick (I have just submitted evidence to the Leveson Inquiry[…]). I have good control of what I say in public and am used to dealing with media questions; I listen and question with care, and focus on responding to others' concerns, which often helps to defuse misunderstandings and hostile comments.

7.  I understand both the Nolan principles and wider public service values, and work within them at all times. I am particularly interested in ensuring that appeals to openness are taken in an intelligent way, rather than being viewed as no more than a duty to disclose. In my view intelligent openness in public life is a matter of communicating in ways that ensure that others can not only locate but also understand and assess material.

8.  I am not disqualified under any of the headings listed.

9.  My current institutional commitments are listed in my cv. I am thoroughly familiar with the need to update declarations of interest regularly. I do not believe that I currently have any conflict of interest, or that anybody would perceive that I had one.

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Prepared 18 October 2012