Rona Fairhead CBE and the HSBC scandal

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Culture, Media and Sport,

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

I note that Ms Rona Fairhead CBE was appointed as Chairman of the BBC Trust at a Privy Council on 8 October 2014. I understand that under the terms of the BBC Royal Charter, the appointment of the BBC Trust Chairman is made by HM The Queen on recommendation from Ministers (the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, through the Prime Minister).

I also note that on 31 August 2014, Sajid Javid, the Culture Secretary, announced that Rona Fairhead was the Government’s preferred candidate for the BBC Trust Chairman. This followed an open recruitment process, overseen by an independent Public Appointments Assessor.

I further note that Rona Fairhead has been on the board of HSBC since 2004, and was made the chair of the audit and risk committee in May 2007.

Please could you provide details of the due diligence (if any) that DCMS undertook of HSBC and Rona Fairhead's role at HSBC during the recruitment process and prior to the Rt Hon Mr Javid recommending to the Queen that she should be appointed chair of the BBC Trust.

Was the Rt Hon Mr Javid or DCMS aware of allegations of HSBC's Swiss arm assisting clients with tax evasion at the time of the recommendation to the Queen?

Also was the Rt Hon Mr Javid or DCMS aware that Ms Fairhead was facing a class action lawsuit in a New York court by HSBC shareholders over allegations the bank allowed terrorists and Mexican drug cartels to launder money?

Finally, please disclose all DCMS correspondence or meeting minutes since 9 October 2014 in relation to Ms Fairhead's continuing role as BBC Trust Chair in light of the HSBC Suisse scandal.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Michael Richards

FOI Mailbox, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Thank you for your email which is now being dealt with by the Freedom of
Information Team at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 
You will receive a response to your information request within 20 working
days of receipt.
  

Birgitte Charles, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Dear Mr Richards,

Thank you for your email of 28 February.

I can confirm that your request will be responded to partly as
correspondence, for which you will receive a separate reply.

I am responding to the part of your request which is being dealt with
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act), where you ask:

“ please disclose all DCMS correspondence or meeting minutes since 9
October 2014 in relation to Ms Fairhead’s continuing role as BBC Trust
Chair in light of the HSBC Suisse scandal.”

I can advise that the Department does not hold any relevant information.

Yours sincerely,

Freedom of Information Team

 

Department for Culture, Media & Sport

4th floor, 100 Parliament Street

London SW1A 2BQ

 

Tel: 020 7211 6395

[1]www.gov.uk/dcms

 

 

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References

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Birgitte Charles, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Dear Mr Richards,

Thank you for your email regarding Rona Fairhead’s appointment as Chairman
of the BBC Trust. We responded on 30 March to the Freedom of Information
part of your request, which was your last question. This response
addresses the rest of your questions.

In response to your first question regarding details of the due diligence
DCMS undertook during the recruitment process, I can advise that the
Government appointed search consultants (Saxton Bampfylde) to identify
candidates suitable for the role, and invite them to apply. A selection
panel, chaired by an independent Public Appointments assessor, considered
all applicants on their merits and suitability for the role [including any
potential conflicts of interest or potential controversy that may arise].
After shortlisting and interviewing candidates, the panel made
recommendations to Ministers on which candidates had been identified as
appointable.

In response to your second and third questions, I can confirm that no one
in DCMS was aware of these issues.

Yours sincerely,

Department for Culture, Media & Sport
Ministerial Support Team
4th floor, 100 Parliament Street
London SW1A 2BQ
[1]www.gov.uk/dcms
   

References

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1. http://www.gov.uk/dcms

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