Legal Ombudsman hires new leadership team

Paul McFadden

The Legal Ombudsman (LeO) has brought in an experienced public services ombudsman and a senior civil servant to lead its management through the next phase of reform.

Paul McFadden has been named chief ombudsman, with Sandra Strinati taking on the new role of chief operating officer.

LeO has been struggling in recent times, with significant delays in handling complaints, exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19.

Elisabeth Davies, chair of the Office for Legal Complaints – the board that oversees LeO – said earlier this year that a restructure of LeO’s senior leadership team was “absolutely critical”, with “the lack of senior operational capability and capacity within the LeO management team” a significant factor in its budget being rejected in March.

It also raised questions about LeO having neither a chief operating officer nor a director of operations, she said. While the decision some years ago to combine the chief ombudsman and chief executive roles was “clearly right in terms of single point of leadership”, it left operational gaps that needed filling.

Mr McFadden recently served as acting Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman and Local Government Commissioner for Standards, having previously held other similar roles in Northern Ireland and before that worked for a number of years with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

He previously helped establish Scotland’s first independent police complaints commission and the UK Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, and currently serves on the UK Administrative Justice Council.

Sandra Strinati

Ms Strinati was most recently as the cross-government civil service head of the operational delivery profession team, based at HM Revenue & Customs, which is described as the largest profession in government.

Through this, she has been involved in the government response to the Grenfell fire tragedy and the repatriation of UK citizens following the Monarch airline collapse.

Before that, she was at HM Courts and Tribunal Service, latterly as regional director for the South West of England.

Both will join in January 2021, with Mariette Hughes – the head of impact, service policy and external affairs – currently standing in as acting chief ombudsman following the departure of Rebecca Marsh to take over at the Property Ombudsman.

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