UK Ministers Blocking Appointments to Human Rights Watchdog

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is running short of board members and struggling to fulfil its duties because, lawyers allege, ministers are repeatedly vetoing appointments on political grounds. Several experienced candidates supported by the state-funded independent body are understood to have been blocked in recent months after, it has been claimed, intervention by Downing Street or the Cabinet Office. The EHRC is the government’s advisory body on human rights and equality issues. Confirmation is contained in published minutes of its board meetings which warn that “current vacancies on the board … [have] presented immediate quorum issues”.

Some former board members allege the difficulties date to the arrival of Theresa May as prime minister, at which point stricter selection criteria are said to have been imposed. The government’s distraction over Brexit may also have delayed appointments. The shortage has coincided with the introduction of a new governance code on public appointments, which is said to have made it easier for ministers to pick their political allies.

Read more: Owen Bowcott, Guardian,

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