New Zealand Commissioner in line to be UK Information Commissioner

Parliament’s DCMS Committee was due to interview ‘the government’s preferred candidate’ for the post of the Information Commissioner last Wednesday, 21 July. However, the date has been postponed – apparently due to the ICO investigation into the unofficial use of CCTV following the previous Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s resignation.

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said about the delay:

“We are disappointed that yet again the Government is unable to go ahead with an appointment to a crucial oversight role, the second time in as many months. This time, Ministers have failed to provide a preferred candidate to become the next Information Commissioner. This comes after a decision to re-run the appointments process for the next Chair of Ofcom.

“Both appointments are critical - Ofcom as the future regulator in the draft Online Safety Bill, the ICO with its ongoing responsibilities on data collection, including the high profile investigation into an alleged data breach that led to the resignation of Health Secretary Matt Hancock. The Parliamentary recess means further unnecessary delay, with September the earliest an appointment can be confirmed.

“We understand that despite processes running well, delays centre on Number 10. This mishandling calls into question decision-making at the top of Government.”

According to reports, the government’s preferred choice for the new Commissioner is John Edwards, Privacy Commissioner of New Zealand since February 2014.

The £200,000 post (subject to Parliamentary approval) was advertised in February with a deadline of 5 April. Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, had previously agreed an extension until October.