MPs urge government to block ‘unappointable’ candidates from Ofcom job

·2-min read
Ofcom headquarters , Riverside house  (Getty Images)
Ofcom headquarters , Riverside house (Getty Images)

The Commons culture committee has urged the government to block candidates who were previously deemed “unappointable” from re-applying to become the next chair of Ofcom.

The recruitment process to appoint a new chair of the communications regulator is being re-run after failing to find a suitable candidate earlier this year.

The process however has been challenged by the Commons culture committee, as the recruitment materials do not state that candidates who were previously deemed unfit for the role should not re-apply. The inclusion of this type of wording is generally considered to be an industry standard when a recruitment campaign is being re-run, the committee said.

The committee has therefore urged the department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to include this message in the recruitment materials for potential applicants.

Conservative MP Julian Knight, the committee chair, said: “The DCMS Committee has once again had to raise important concerns around the appointments process for the new Chair of Ofcom.

“Where a previous candidate has been deemed to be unappointable for a post, they should be ruled out of re-applying. However, this crucial line is missing from the campaign information to recruit Ofcom’s next chair.

“It would be extremely alarming if this was deliberate omission rather than an oversight and we are seeking clarification.”

The committee’s anxiety around re-running the recruitment process centres around the failed candidacy of Paul Dacre, the former editor of the Daily Mail.

Mr Dacre was thought to be Downing Street’s favoured candidate to lead Ofcom, but was ultimately deemed unfit in the recruitment process.

In the final round of interviews, an independent four-person advisory panel determined that Mr Dacre was “unappointable” the role due to his strong opinions on the media, including previous fervent criticism of the BBC.

If the wording of the current recruitment materials remains unchanged, it would leave the door open for Mr Dacre to reapply for the role, in hopes of landing finding himself being questioned by a more receptive panel.

The i reported that Mr Dacre has not indicated whether he intends to reapply for the role.

DCMS has previously said that the recruitment process was being re-run in hopes of securing a more diverse pool of candidates for the role that oversees a wide range of broadcasting and licensing responsibilities, after receiving only nine applications earlier this year.

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