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Wednesday, 6 February, 2002, 15:50 GMT
Sleaze watchdog named
Speaker says there was no plot to 'undermine' Filkin
The candidate nominated to replace Elizabeth Filkin as sleaze watchdog has been announced.

Philip Mawer, who is Secretary General of the General Synod and Secretary General of the Archbishops' Council since 1990, has to have his appointment ratified by MPs in a vote next week.

Philip Mawer
Philip Mawer: leading Churchman
His nomination was welcomed by the longest serving MP in the Commons, Tam Dalyell, who said Mr Mawer had also been secretary of the Scarman inquiry following the Brixton riots in the early 1980s.

There were 64 applications for the post.

Mrs Filkin quit amid allegations of a whispering campaign against her and decided not to re-apply for the role of Parliamentary Standards Commissioner last year, claiming it had been downgraded by MPs.

'Commitment'

Mr Mawer's appointment is for three years at an annual salary of 75,000.

Mr Mawer said of his appointment: "I am honoured to be nominated for the role of Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

"The work of the PCS is important in helping maintain confidence in standards of conduct in this vital area of public life.

"It brings together my long-standing commitment to public service and concern with moral and ethical behaviour in society."

'Independence'

Stuart Bell, for the Commons commission, said he was confident Mr Mawer was a "candidate of independence, strength and discretion."

"He is well able to undertake this exacting role and ensure that the system of parliamentary self regulation continues to work effectively, and is seen to do so, both inside and outside the house," Mr Bell added.

Criticism

Three candidates were interviewed for the position on Monday by the House of Commons commission, which includes the Speaker, Michael Martin, Leader of the House, Robin Cook and a group of senior MPs.

MPs are likely to be asked to approve the commission's choice on Wednesday of next week.

During her time in the job, Mrs Filkin conducted a series of high-profile inquiries into senior Commons figures, including Peter Mandelson, John Major and Keith Vaz.

But her allegedly over-zealous style and her willingness to talk to the press drew criticism from all sides.

She is reported to have declined a plea from Mr Martin to re-consider her decision to quit.

The former civil servant is understood to have told the Speaker she believed the role's independence had been undermined and there was not enough money available to hire staff.

Stand-in

Mr Martin has insisted the sleaze watchdog's strength and independence will not be compromised.

But the new commissioner is expected to be told not to speak to the press without permission.

Former Guardian editor Peter Preston was the most high profile figure to put themselves forward for the post.

Former Tatton MP and anti-sleaze campaigner Martin Bell, who was touted as a possible replacement, said he would not be applying.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Laura Trevelyan
"Filkin's work was often controversial with MPs"
Peter Bottomley, Parliamentary Standards Commitee
"I think it is a good choice"
See also:

06 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Philip Mawer: No pushover?
21 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Campaign against watchdog was 'real'
11 Dec 01 | UK Politics
'No plot' to undermine watchdog
07 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Standards body backs MPs watchdog
06 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Sleaze watchdog's plea to MPs
05 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Speaker hits back in sleaze row
05 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Sleazebuster's high-profile scalps
05 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Profile of Elizabeth Filkin
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