Paul Dacre will get second chance to apply for Ofcom chair, ministers confirm

Interviews for TV regulator to be rerun despite panel saying former Daily Mail editor was ‘not appointable’

Paul Dacre will “imminently” be offered another chance to become chair of the media regulator, Ofcom, ministers have confirmed.

Ministers have been attempting to appoint the former Daily Mail editor to run the watchdog since last summer. They had thought in May that this had been achieved, only for Dacre unexpectedly to flunk his final interview, with the interview panel saying he was “not appointable”.

Individuals with knowledge of the recruitment process say this was despite Dacre being offered guidance on what to say in the interview and how to meet the job description criteria.

Rather than appoint one of the candidates who had been successfully vetted, ministers instead decided to rerun the hiring process to give Dacre another shot.

Ed Vaizey
Ed Vaizey: ‘I congratulate the government on the launch of their great comedy drama Ofcom Succession.’ Photograph: Danny Martindale/WireImage

Julian Knight, the chair of the culture select committee and a Conservative MP, said last month that the recruitment process was being restarted without adequate justification and that Dacre should be blocked from the job. “Where a previous candidate has been deemed to be unappointable for a post, they should be ruled out of reapplying,” he said.

However, Lord Parkinson, an arts minister, told the Lords there would be no ban on any applicants and “the recruitment process will be launched imminently”. The final decision will be made by the culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, in consultation with Downing Street.

Peers also raised concerns about a report in the Guardian that the government had struggled to find people to sit on the second interview panel. There have also been complaints that Dacre has no experience of Ofcom’s other roles of overseeing postal services and broadband infrastructure.

Ed Vaizey, who was in the running for Ofcom chair earlier this year, told parliament: “My Lords, I congratulate the government on the launch of their great comedy drama Ofcom Succession. My understanding is that the first process was stopped because the government had failed to appoint a headhunter to seek out the highest-quality candidates to apply for this important role. Can my noble friend tell me, first, has a headhunter been appointed? Secondly, if so, who is it? Finally, can I have their phone number?”

Parkinson confirmed that a recruitment consultant had been hired – but did not comment on Vaizey’s chances of getting the job.

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Jim Waterson Media editor

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