Ministers name choice for next Committee on Standards in Public Life chief

Army veteran Doug Chalmers set to succeed Jonathan Evans in watchdog role
Lt Gen Doug Chalmers Photo: Wikmedia Commons

By Jim Dunton

24 Nov 2023

The Cabinet Office has announced former British Army Lieutenant General Doug Chalmers as the government’s preferred candidate to chair ethics watchdog the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

CSPL has been without a chair since the end of last month, when former MI5 director-general Lord Jonathan Evans completed his five-year term at the helm of the independent body.

Chalmers joined the Army as a private in 1984 and was stationed in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Germany, Cyprus and the United States over the following 37 years. His deployments included Iraq and Afghanistan.

Chalmers’ final appointment was as deputy chief of defence staff, responsible for military strategy and operations, from 2018 to 2021. He has served as master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge since October 2021.

His confirmation as CSPL chair is subject to a pre-appointment hearing in front of members of parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee.

The Cabinet Office said it expected Chalmers to take up his new role “shortly”.

Deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden said Chalmers was an “excellent” candidate to succeed Evans at CSPL.

“His extensive and versatile experience in the Army, government and academia will be a great asset to the committee in helping to uphold ethical standards of conduct across public life,” he said.

In addition to serving as master of Emmanuel College, Chalmers sits on the management board for the university’s Centre for Geopolitics. He is also the colonel commandant of the Army’s Queen’s Division.

CSPL was created in 1994 as part of the Major government’s response to persistent sleaze allegations in Westminster.

It conducts broad inquiries, collecting evidence to assess institutions, policies and practices and makes recommendations to the prime minister.

The committee promotes the “seven principles of public life”, developed by its founding chair Lord Michael Nolan.

Over his five-year term in office at CSPL, Evans issued numerous unflinching evaluations of concerning developments in government. The next print edition of Civil Service World will feature an in-depth interview with him.

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