Out of the shadows, part 3 – the Legal Services Consumer Panel

Posted by Neil Rose, Editor, Legal Futures

Hayter: one of four Labour supporters among the eight panel members

The latest edition of my series looking at who’s who on the various bodies overseeing the legal profession takes us to the Legal Services Consumer Panel, the public face for which is chairwoman Baroness Dianne Hayter of Kentish Town – one of four members of the eight-person panel who are declared Labour supporters in the register of members’ interests that has just been published following a Freedom of Information Act request by Legal Futures.

Dianne Hayter
Ms Hayter has various roles – as chairwoman of the Property Standards Board and the actuarial user group of the Financial Reporting Council; as a member of the Board for Actuarial Standards, and of the NEST Corporation. She was previously chairwoman of the Bar Standards Board’s consumer panel, vice-chairwoman of the Financial Services Consumer Panel, and on the National Consumer Council.

Prior to that she was chief executive of a number of organisations, including Alcohol Concern, the European Parliamentary Labour Party and the Pelican Cancer Centre, as well as director of corporate affairs at the Wellcome Trust. She was a member of the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee, is a trustee of a number of charities and was a JP for over a decade.

Jeff Bell
A trading standards consultant based in Stockton-on-Tees, Mr Bell has previously held various trading standards roles in the north-east, including chief trading standards officer at Redcar and Cleveland Unitary Council. In these roles he brought three major projects to the north-east: Consumer Direct, the Scambuster Team and the Illegal Moneylending Team.

Graham Corbett
Mr Corbett is a member of the employment tribunal panel and was working as a senior national officer at the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) before taking voluntary redundancy at the end of 2009. Formerly he was deputy head of legal services at the PCS and a civil servant at the Department of Environment and Transport.

Elisabeth Davies
Ms Davies is also a trustee of the Immigration Advisory Service, chairwoman of Wandsworth Citizens Advice Bureaux, and was previously deputy chairwoman of Wandsworth Primary Care Trust. Her career includes a series of senior roles in the health field, including at the NHS National Patient Safety Agency, as well as director of policy at the Refugee Council. She chairs Tooting Labour Party and is a member of Labour’s national parliamentary panel.

Emma Harrison
Formerly principal public affairs officer at Which?, Ms Harrison is director of public engagement at the Royal National Institute for the Deaf. A Labour Party member, she was also previously a political adviser at the European Parliament.

Paul Munden
A non-practising barrister, Mr Munden is described as an experienced general counsel and chartered director, and the register of interests also says he is in partnership with his wife to own and manage a portfolio of commercial and residential properties across the UK. Over the last ten years he has held a number of senior board posts at the Business Link operation in London. An accredited tutor with the Institute of Directors, he was a founder non-executive director of Customer First UK, which is responsible for the national Customer First quality accreditation framework. Mr Munden is currently on the board of NHS Mid Essex and the National Youth Music Theatre, and is a magistrate.

Neil Wightman
Mr Wightman is deputy head of housing needs at the London Borough of Camden and is joint chairman of the Association of Housing Advice Services. He has worked in local government for 20 years and before that worked as an advice worker at Citizens Advice Bureaux.

Karin Woodley
Ms Woodley is the chief executive of community learning organisation ContinYou, having previously held the same role at the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. Among various roles, she previously chaired the Kensington and Chelsea Metropolitan Police Independent Advisory Group on Race, and was an adviser to the Scotland Yard Gold Task Group for the Notting Hill Carnival Policing Strategy.

Board members’ expenses for the year to 31 July 2010, also released to Legal Futures under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal around a modest £1,750 in payments, around half of which went to Jeff Bell, mainly in rail travel.

The board only has two members of staff, the senior one of whom is Steve Brooker, who was head of fair markets at Consumer Focus. He has had experience of the legal world prior to joining the panel, being a member of the Ministry of Justice’s consumer advisory group during the passage of the Legal Services Bill, and also of the ministry’s Advisory Committee on Civil Costs.

My previous posts in this series looked at the Legal Services Board (see here) and the Office for Legal Complaints/Legal Ombudsman (see here).


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