The New Zealand Judge, Dame Lowell Goddard, prompted controversy when she was selected to head the politically sensitive investigation into child abuse over English candidates. That decision, and then her own to withdraw, invite questions about leadership selection
Selection of course, rather than election, although the selection process is made by our elected representatives. This distinction that seemed to have passed by Nigel Farage, in his often-repeated remarks about non-elected officials in the citadels of the Evil Empire in Brussels and Strasbourg.)
One of the exclusion criteria was any whiff of a conflict of interest. This ended the appointment of the otherwise eminently suitable Baroness Butler-Sloss , as well as that of her successor, Dame Fiona Woolf:
The inquiry was set up to investigate allegations made against local authorities, religious organisations, the armed forces and public and private institutions in England and Wales, as well as people in the public eye.
It will be conducted on a statutory basis – meaning it has the power to compel witnesses to give evidence.
Baroness Butler-Sloss stood down as chairwoman in July 2014 following questions over the role played by her late brother, Lord Havers, who was attorney general in the 1980s.
Her replacement Dame Fiona Woolf resigned following questions over her links to establishment figures.
There is nothing like a Dame
There seems to have been absurd limitations to the selection in the first place. Might there have been exclusion of male candidates, or of anyone not yet ennobled?
Even the Female members of the House of Lords chosen turned out to have possible conflicts of interest through personal connections. Hence the (reluctant) choice of a dame from a safe distance in the antipodes. (I decided against using as title for this post, There is nothing like a dame).
Clearly there is something seriously wrong about the selection process. Perhaps our political leaders had too little time to think through the process.
Long-time subscribers to LWD, as well as students I have taught, will know my enthusiasm for escaping from leadership dilemmas by application of creative thinking. How about accepting and making transparent ‘possible vested interests’? What about extending the field to commoners, or even royals if any has time to spare, in their packed diaries.
Might males be at least considered? Of course, as Donald Trump and his committed supporters might well argue, there is no need to exclude those with lack of appropriate experience.
Why not a journalist?
A discussion between Nicky Campbell and an investigative journalist this morning on BBC 5 Live concentrated mainly on the iniquitous behaviour of the departing Chairperson. “I think she’s been taking us for a ride” the interviewer saidi ndignantly.
He did outline the skills required for a leader of this particular inquiry. He made it sound like something suited for the skills of, well, an investigative journalist. Or maybe a retired academic.
I will not be putting my name forward.