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Volume 592: debated on Monday 2 February 2015

I wish to inform the House that Mr Paul McDowell has tendered his resignation from his post as chief inspector of probation.

As I discussed with the Justice Select Committee on 2 December and covered in subsequent correspondence with the Committee Chair, an issue arose about a potential perceived conflict of interest for Mr McDowell given his wife’s employment with Sodexo, and their role as a provider of probation services. I have considered carefully all of the potential mechanisms and systems that could be introduced and used to manage any actual or perceived conflict of interest. However Mr McDowell has decided that, in the circumstances, he will resign.

Throughout this process Mr McDowell has acted with utter transparency and professionalism. Indeed I must acknowledge Mr McDowell’s assured leadership and the grounded independence of his findings in relation to the inspectorate and the work he has done since his appointment.

I regret that circumstances have changed and are now such that we have reached this position. At time of his appointment Mr McDowell’s position was fully reasonable and the appropriate pre-appointment processes in place at that time were properly followed. The Justice Select Committee will be involved in the appointment of a permanent successor in the usual way.