The Sunday Times (paywalled) has lifted a corner of the dustcover that shrouds the mechanics of public appointments, with a report of disagreements between the former Commissioner for Public Appointments, Sir David Normington, and the Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale.
It says 54 people applied for a vacancy as Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery. Five had some sort of endorsement from Whittingdale; three of them were understood to be "Tory donors or supporters", and one was a former Conservative minister.
The Commissioner has twelve Public Appointments Assessors at his disposal, and Sarah Anderson, CBE, who's been on the team since 2012, lead the selection panel. Their first unanimous shortlist included none of the five Whittingdale nominees; they were asked to re-consider, and again, this time decided by a majority, according to the ST, this list came back with none of John's recommendations on it.
The DCMS told the Sunday Times that it believed some aspect of the appointments code had been breached, and it had no choice but to ask for a new panel to be convened under a different chair. They will interview to produce a new shortlist, from which John Whittingdale will make his selection, before a formal appointment by the Prime Minister.
Sarah Anderson is co-founder of Simple Solutions, which brings you Toodle-Loo, The Toddler's Foldaway Loo-Seat.