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Michael Gove picks former counter-terror chief for prisons watchdog role

Published 20/11/2015

Michael Gove has named his preferred choice to be the next chief inspector of prisons
Michael Gove has named his preferred choice to be the next chief inspector of prisons

Justice Secretary Michael Gove has selected a former counter-terrorism chief as his preferred candidate to become the next prisons watchdog.

The minister has named Peter Clarke as his favoured choice for the role of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons.

Mr Clarke worked in the Metropolitan Police for more than 30 years, rising to the rank of assistant commissioner and serving as head of the anti-terrorist branch.

He oversaw the handling of several major investigations and became the face of the battle against terrorism in the aftermath of the July 7 bombings.

Last year Mr Clarke oversaw the inquiry into the "Trojan horse" allegations of a hardline Islamist plot to seize control of several Birmingham schools.

Mr Gove set out his selection in a letter to the Justice Select Committee, which will scrutinise his choice. If it is rubber stamped, Mr Clarke is expected to take up the post early next year.

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons is appointed from outside the prison service, normally for a term of five years.

The holder of the post reports directly to ministers on the treatment of inmates, conditions in prisons, young offender institutions and court custody, as well as any other matters as directed by the Justice Secretary.

The appointment of the incumbent Nick Hardwick was extended earlier this year in order to allow the recruitment process for his successor to be re-run.

Mr Gove also named Glenys Stacey, the chief executive of the exams regulator in England, as his preferred candidate for Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Probation.

It was announced in August that Ms Stacey, a solicitor by profession, would be leaving Ofqual. Her selection for the post will go through the same process of scrutiny as Mr Clarke's.

Meanwhile Kate Lampard has been appointed as the interim chairwoman of the Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody. The former barrister oversaw investigations into Jimmy Savile's activities across NHS institutions.

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