Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: Woman who'll take up Victims' Commissioner role... as £75,000-a-year post finally filled

Unveiled: Judith Thompson will be announced as the new Victims’ Commissioner later this week
Unveiled: Judith Thompson will be announced as the new Victims’ Commissioner later this week
Former head of the Victims Commission Kathryn Stone
Dawn Purvis

By Deborah McAleese

Northern Ireland's new Victims' Commissioner can today be revealed by the Belfast Telegraph.

The commissioner, who will be officially unveiled later this week, is Judith Thompson, a skills advisor to the Northern Ireland Probation Board.

Ms Thompson will take up the high-profile and politically sensitive position, with a salary of £75,000, which has been vacant since Kathryn Stone stepped down from office more than a year ago.

When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph yesterday Ms Thompson said she was not in a position to comment.

At least three local women were on the shortlist for the job. One of those under consideration was former loyalist political leader Dawn Purvis.

News that Ms Purvis was in the running sparked an angry backlash from the fathers of two UVF victims.

Final interviews were held last week and Ms Thompson was selected and agreed. She is due to be officially named by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister within days.

Ms Thompson is currently the Northern Ireland operations manager for Skills for Justice, a UK research and consultancy organisation. Part of her responsibilities have been with the Probation Board.

Her team works with employers within the Northern Ireland justice sector to develop workforce skills.

Her LinkedIn profile states that since 2004 her "work has focused on building strong relationships with employers, government departments and politicians to influence the skills agenda and achieve the organisation's objectives".

Her profile adds that she has "helped raise understanding of the justice and community safety workforce and its skills needs through research, projects and consultancy".

Ms Thompson will likely take up her post with immediate effect.

Victims' groups had expressed concern over the delay in replacing Ms Stone, who left her job last June to take up a post in England. Ms Stone had been commissioner since September 2012.

The chair of the Victims and Survivors Service (VSS) had said it was essential that a new commissioner was appointed soon.

Oliver Wilkinson told the Belfast Telegraph that many of the groups who represent victims were starting to go off "in different directions".

Several people have resigned in recent months from the Victims Forum.

Only a new commissioner can replace them.

The VSS is reportedly dealing with an average of 1,000 calls from victims and survivors of the Troubles every week.

Mr Wilkinson warned that the longer the period without an appointment, "the more fractured the victims' community is becoming".

The principal aims of the Commission for Victims and Survivors is to promote the interests of victims and survivors of the Northern Ireland conflict.

Belfast Telegraph


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