Electoral Commission director named LSB chief executive

Westwood: Legal sector faces significant challenges

The director of communications, policy and research at the Electoral Commission is to become the new chief executive of the Legal Services Board (LSB).

Craig Westwood joins on 19 August after eight years at the commission. He will also become a board member and hold the role of accounting officer.

He led a 40-strong team at the Electoral Commission with a direct budget of up to £6.5m a year, bigger than the LSB on both counts. Among other things, he led its project on the introduction of voter ID in polling stations.

Mr Westwood’s career began in the late 1990s in three in-house public relations roles before nearly a decade working in the Civil Service in various positions mainly at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, working on public body financing and oversight, digital innovation and literacy improvement, and international cultural engagement programmes.

His final post was as private secretary to the minister for culture, communications and creative industries, Ed Vaizey, for the first three years of the coalition government.

He then moved to corporate communications firm Pagefield, with clients including AB-InBev, HS1 Ltd, EDF Energy, Kellogg’s, 21st Century Fox, Camelot and the British Library (where he had been a press officer during the early years of his career).

LSB chair Alan Kershaw said: “We are impressed not only with his experience but also with his passion, enthusiasm, and commitment to the public interest.

“He will bring to the board an excellent blend of leadership, people focus and drive to take our organisation forward and ensure that regulation supports people to access the legal services they need.”

Mr Westwood said: “The legal sector plays a fundamental role in both our society and our economy but is facing significant challenges. Effective regulation can support it to develop and thrive, maintaining the consumer and wider public interest, including through coordinated work across the professions.”

The most recent LSB accounts, for 2022-23, show that his predecessor, Matthew Hill, was paid between £140,000 and £145,000 in salary, plus a bonus of £15-20,000 and pension contribution of £14,000.

Mr Hill left in the spring to become chief executive of the Chartered Insurance Institute. Speaking to Legal Futures before his departure, he questioned why ‘trade associations’ like the Law Society and Bar Council received a “statutory funding stream” from regulatory fees paid by lawyers.

Meanwhile, family law solicitor Christine Nwaokolo has been appointed a member of the LSB.

She has worked for various private practice law firms – including Co-operative Legal Services – and local authorities (she was lead advocate at the London Borough of Lewisham), and recently became a consultant solicitor specialising in childcare cases.

Alongside her legal career, Ms Nwaokolo has taken on several panel decision making roles. She is currently a lay panel member for Five Rivers; a charity which helps children recover from trauma or family breakdown, where she sits on the foster panel; a lay chair for Nursing and Midwifery Council fitness to practise hearings, and a legally qualified chair of police misconduct hearings for the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime.

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