- Culture Department claims that selection process will be ‘fair and open.’
- The news comes after this website revealed the Associated News Editor-in-Chief’s links to phone hacking.
- Boris Johnson is rumoured to be lining-up his Fleet Street mate to run TV regulator.
By Graham Johnson
Editor, Byline Investigates
THE GOVERNMENT has confirmed that it will follow due process in appointing the next boss of Ofcom – but critics aren’t convinced and fear it will be a ‘shoo-in’ for Paul Dacre.
The Culture Department wrote back to Byline Investigates in response to speculation that the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday Editor-In-Chief is being lined up for the role.
Despite the ‘due process,’ in any case, the government gets the final choice on the appointment.
Rumours that the hardline Fleet Street veteran was being slotted into the influential role directly by the Prime Minister sparked alarm in the wider media.
The right-leaning journalist has campaigned against the BBC for years in his newspapers’ pages, leading to fears that he won’t be impartial.
The BBC is the biggest broadcaster that the regulator oversees.
However, last week Byline Investigates wrote to the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden – the Cabinet Minister responsible for Ofcom – about much more serious allegations.
We told the Secretary of State that phone hacking and industrial scale unlawful information gathering took place under Mr Dacre’s Editorship.
Mr Dowden was directed to the 50 or more stories we have published over past three years about the Mail’s criminality
However, his department has promptly responded by saying that the role will be appointed through ‘fair and open competition.’
The letter did not deny that Dacre was in the running, stating that ‘the Government will not be drawn into speculation about potential candidates.’
The department confirmed that that the job interviews will be carried-out by a panel, in line with an official code, from which the government will make its choice.
The representative wrote: ‘The process will be fair and open and run-in line with the Governance Code for Public Appointments and regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
‘All candidates will be assessed objectively against a published criterion by an Advisory Assessment Panel, which includes a Senior Independent Panel Member who is approved by the Independent Commissioner.
‘Once selected, the Secretary of State’s preferred candidate for the role will be subject to pre-appointment scrutiny by the Select Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.’
However, the panel does not consist of several members.
Only one man makes-up the panel, and he will choose who gets the job.
That ‘independent person’ is a director of one of Rupert Murdoch’s companies called Paul Potts.
He is a journalist with a senior role in Murdoch’s Times group of British newspapers.
One critic told Byline Investigates: ‘The key point is, that it is ultimately the choice of the Government as to who gets the role – they don’t deny that..
‘The panel isn’t independent – it just has one independent person.
‘And the Secretary of State can ignore it and choose his favourite anyway.’
Download our letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden Here
Download the reply from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Here