Jowell under fire

Tessa Jowell has come in for some strong criticism again, this time relating to the appointment of five Labour party members to the Big Lottery Fund.

Jowell has been accused of favouritism towards Labour members, with the Conservatives claiming that the only “necessary qualification” to be a member of the Big Lottery Fund was Labour party membership.

Shadow arts minister Ed Vaizey said it was “a little excessive” that five out of twelve members of the board had been “pretty active” in Labour politics. The chairman of the board is Sir Clive Booth, who has actively campaigned for Labour in past elections. He is joined by Sanjay Dighe, Roland Doven, Keith Hill, John Gartside and Albert Tucker.

A spokeswoman for the Department for culture, Media and Sport defended the appointments, stating that the decisions were fair and unbiased.

"All candidates were assessed against the published criteria by a selection panel including an independent assessor," the spokeswoman said.

"Appointments are made on merit and the needs of the big lottery fund board. Political activity plays no part in the selection process."

The Big Lottery Fund, set up in 2004, will give out £630 million a year to health, education, environment and charities with the stated purpose of “bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need”.

Editor, - 2006-12-06 10:59:55

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