Professor wins public sector watchdog post

A LEADING academic is to become Scotland’s first public sector ombudsman, it was announced last night.

Alice Brown, professor of politics and the vice-principal of Edinburgh University, has been chosen for the position by a cross-party panel of MSPs chaired by the Scottish Parliament’s presiding officer, Sir David Steel.

The full parliament, at its meeting today, is due to endorse the appointment, which carries a salary of 72,000. Three part-time deputy ombudsmen have been named as Eric Drake, who currently works for the existing parliamentary and health service ombudsman; Carolyn Hirst, a housing director; and the Rev Lewis Shand Smith, the rector at St John’s Church in Dumfries and a former convener of Shetland Islands Council.

Their first job will be to oversee the merger of existing ombudsman offices, currently covering parliament, health, local government and housing associations.

The aim of the new service is to provide a "one-stop shop" for complaints from the public. Under the new scheme, complaints will no longer have to be channelled through MSPs.