CMA to extend interim chair's post as appointment woes continue

Extension could leave regulator without a permanent chair for two years
The CMA's Canary Wharf HQ. Photo: GOV.UK

The interim chair of the Competition and Markets Authority, Jonathan Scott, will be asked to stay on for another year, according to reports, in the latest of a series of delays across high-profile public appointments.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has asked Scott, who was named interim CMA chair almost a year ago, to extend his term as a permanent successor will not be in place for some time, Sky News reported.

The last CMA chair, Lord Andrew Tyrie, stepped down in September 2020 and a recruitment campaign to replace him launched in December. The process was expected to take several months, with a pre-appointment hearing in June.

However, ministers opted not to appoint any of the candidates interviewed by the recruitment panel.

The vacancy recently drew the attention of public appointments commissioner Peter Riddell, who used ministers' failure to fill the role as an example of "unnecessary and avoidable delays" in making public appointments.

Riddell wrote to then-Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove this summer asking him to explain what action the government was taking to cut down on delays, which he said incur costs, "put good candidates off and can undermine the reputation of the government in making appointments in good faith".

Riddell said the unsuccessful first recruitment round for CMA chair meant there was likely to be a 15-month gap between permanent chairs – but the latest news means the gap will be much longer.

In his response, Gove said the business secretary was "close" to launching a fresh recruitment campaign for the role.

However, no job adverts have been published since then.

A BEIS spokesperson said: "The government is committed to ensuring strong leadership of the CMA, and is currently consulting on plans to strengthen its powers to protect consumers and ensure thriving markets across the UK.

"The next steps for the leadership of the CMA board will be announced in due course."

Earlier this year – after the first recruitment round ended without an appointment – BEIS said it was "only right that we take the time to find the best person for the position". They said at the time that the process would relaunch "in due course".

BEIS is expected to announce the extension of Scott's term as interim CMA chair next week.

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