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DCMS confirms Orlando Fraser as Charity Commission Chair

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament view from the other side of the Thames

Orlando Fraser has been appointed for a three-year term, despite being rejected by the DCMS committee due to concerns over the selection process.

While the committee had no concerns over the Fraser as an individual, it expressed serious concerns over how he was selected, calling it an unimaginative choice from a limited shortlist and the appointment demonstrative of a lack of care, attention and commitment on the part of DCMS.

Fraser starts on 25 April, with the role for two and a half days a week, remunerated at £62,500 per annum.

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Fraser’s experience

Fraser has been a commercial barrister for nearly 30 years and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2014. He previously served on the board of the Charity Commission from 2013 to 2017, where he acted as one of two statutory legal members and chaired the Governance & Remuneration Committee as well as the Policy & Guidance Committee. He has also served on the Civil Justice Council and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations’ Advisory Council.

His involvement in the voluntary sector dates back to 1992, when he took an aid convoy to Bosnia. Since then, he has served on the Management Committee of a West London domestic abuse refuge, served as a Governor of Ilfracombe College, edited the voluntary sector sections of Centre of Social Justice’s “Breakdown Britain” and “Breakthrough Britain” reports, and supported the Rugby Portobello Trust charity after the 2017 Grenfell tragedy.

Sector response

The news has met a mixed response. ACEVO responded to Fraser’s appointment, stating:

“We welcome Orlando Fraser as the new chair of the Charity Commission. However, we are disappointed that the government has pressed on with this appointment without the backing of the DCMS Committee for the second successive time.

 

“The commitments Mr Fraser has made to political neutrality, and his willingness to restate the legal remit of the regulator in the face of external pressures, is particularly welcome. This will be crucial to building trust with the sector.

 

“Civil society has a vital role to play as the country moves into the next stage of the pandemic. We look forward to working with Mr Fraser and the Commission to support a strong sector that is able to respond to challenges and support communities to thrive.”

NCVO also commented, with Head of Networks & Influencing Alex Farrow saying:

“This will be the second chair of the Charity Commission in a row not to receive the explicit backing of parliament. This is disappointing.

 

“The government must look again at this process and work to ensure that future Chairs have the backing of parliament. We share many of the concerns noted by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee about the process for appointing a new Chair and regret that the process was not re-run.

 

“However, we are pleased that Orlando Fraser has made strong commitments to the independence of the Commission, and regulatory involvement being based only on charity law, not on political pressure.

 

“We have strong working relationships with the Charity Commission team and leadership. We look forward to working with them and Orlando Fraser to build an even stronger sector that can respond to the challenges facing communities.”

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