For the first half of my working life I pursued a successful career in television. I’m probably best remembered for programmes such as Rough Justice and my campaigns on behalf of victims of miscarriages of justice. I have accumulated a number of prizes which this self-congratulatory industry awards itself, but I am perhaps proudest of following Sir Ludovic Kennedy as the only other recipient of the Bar Council Special Award for Journalism.
For the last ten years, however, I have changed direction to become one of 11 Commissioners appointed by HM on the recommendation of the Prime Minister one of the country’s most challenging and respected NDPBs – the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The Commission decides whether or not to send back to the Court cases where there is new, evidence-based concern about the safety of criminal convictions. Case referrals involve working in committees and striving for rigour and consensus. The governance of the CCRC has also undergone a major overhaul during my membership of the Board, with deficiencies identified and remedied over issues such as board level NED membership, the senior management team, and risk audits. I retired as senior Commissioner in the summer of 2010.
I have also had regulatory experience as a member of the Code Compliance Tribunal of Phone Pay Plus (an arms-length regulator with OfCom of Premium Rate Services). I adjudicate alleged breaches of the Code, imposing fines of up to £250,000. PhonePay+ was previously known as ICSTIS and was generally viewed by OfCom as falling short; since the inception of the Code Compliance Panel there has been a dramatic turnaround in regulatory robustness, and in the relationship with OfCom.
For five years (2205-2009) I was a member of the Advertising Standards Authority’s independent Advisory Committee under the chairmanship of Elizabeth Filkin. For the past two years the ASA has been involved in a wholesale review of its broadcasting code. As a member of the AAC I have become well acquainted with the new regulatory framework (drink, children, HFSS foods, family planning etc).
My career – be it in television, regulation, or as a Commissioner – has involved working in partnership with colleagues, sharing my experience and judgement in order to arrive at a decisive resolution of issues.