The UK Government has announced the appointment of Michael Smyth as the Northern Ireland representative on the BBC Board. Born and educated in Northern Ireland, Mr. Smyth brings a wealth of experience as a lawyer and regulator to this crucial position.
Having spent two decades as a partner at the esteemed international law firm Clifford Chance, Mr. Smyth led the firm’s government and public policy practice. During his tenure, he authored a groundbreaking textbook on Business and the Human Rights Act, solidifying his reputation as an authority in the field. Additionally, he co-authored significant works on political donations and sanctions law.
Mr. Smyth’s impressive regulatory experience includes serving as the Senior Independent Director at the Legal Services Board, the oversight regulator for the legal profession. He was also a respected member of the Press Complaints Commission and played a pivotal role as a founder director of the Fundraising Regulator, responsible for regulating charity fundraising, and chaired its Complaints Committee. Furthermore, he contributed his expertise as a two-term member of the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives.
A dedicated advocate for not-for-profit activities, Mr. Smyth spent a decade as the chair of Protect, the whistleblowing charity, and Community Links, a pioneering east London charity. His commitment to philanthropy and community service is well-recognised and admired.
As part of his diverse portfolio, Mr. Smyth currently holds the non-executive chair position at Glastry Advisory Partners, a prominent music management company.
The appointment of Michael Smyth was made by the King-in-Council on the recommendation of the UK Government, following consultations with the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland. The selection was part of a delayed process, primarily due to the absence of a power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland.
Elan Closs Stephens, Acting Chair of the BBC, says: “I am delighted to welcome Michael Smyth who has been appointed as the BBC Board member for Northern Ireland. Michael’s extensive experience of public policy, legal regulation and overseeing high-profile public inquiries will make him an asset to the Board.”
The BBC Board comprises 14 members, primarily consisting of non-executive directors. While the Chairman and four non-executive members are appointed by the King-in-Council upon Ministers’ recommendations, the remaining five non-executive members are appointed through the BBC Board’s Nominations Committee. Notably, one member represents each of the four nations of the UK.
The crucial responsibility of the BBC Board is to ensure the fulfilment of the BBC’s mission and public purposes, as outlined in the Charter. Upholding and safeguarding the independence of the BBC while making decisions in the public interest falls within the Board’s mandate. It is accountable for all of the Corporation’s activities, including both publicly funded services and commercial endeavours in the UK and around the world.
With his vast legal knowledge, regulatory experience, and extensive involvement in charitable activities, Michael Smyth is set to be a valuable asset to the BBC Board. His appointment promises to strengthen the representation and engagement of Northern Ireland’s interests within the UK’s national broadcaster.