What our Commissioners do
Our Commissioners lead our strategy and set our priorities.
We have ten Commissioners, each with different political backgrounds and experience. This ensures broad representation and balanced views. The Speaker's Committee is recruiting for a Commissioner to represent the smaller parties.
The role of our commissioners
Our Commissioners form part of the Commission Board, along with our executive team, and:
- set our overall strategic direction, and ensure we deliver our strategic goals
- set our regulatory priorities, and monitor our regulatory activity
- make regulatory or other statutory decisions, if required
- ensure we use public funds efficiently and effectively, and operate within our limits and to high standards of governance
The appointment of our commissioners
The Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, with membership drawn from MPs within the UK Parliament, oversees the recruitment of electoral commissioners. The candidates for these posts are then approved by the House of Commons and appointed by the Monarch. The Speaker’s Committee is also responsible for deciding any reappointment of members following a first term of service.
Names and biographies of our commissioners
Term: 1 May 2021 to 30 April 2025
John Pullinger is our Chair
John is an experienced public servant who has held senior roles in a range of organisations in the UK and internationally.
Until 2019, he was the UK’s National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, developing and delivering a strategy to enhance the trustworthiness, quality and value of official statistics to support political debate and decisions at UK, devolved administration and local levels. He also served as President of the Royal Statistical Society and Chair of the United Nations Statistical Commission.
Since completing his term as National Statistician John has held a number of non-executive and advisory roles including Trustee of the Nuffield Foundation, President of the International Association for Official Statistics and Board member of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data.
Between 2004 and 2014 John was Librarian of the House of Commons where he was responsible for broadening the range of information and research services available to MPs, particularly backbench Members. He also led work to improve the connection between Parliament and its Committees and the public. As well as his work in the UK, he chaired an International Parliamentary Union conference on informing democracy and was involved in parliamentary strengthening projects in Iraq, Myanmar and elsewhere.
Term: 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2023
Dame Sue Bruce is our Commissioner with responsibility for Scotland.
Sue Bruce is a non-executive director with SSE PLC; Chair of Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO); and is a Deputy Lieutenant of the City of Edinburgh. She is also a member of the Audit Committee of the University of Strathclyde, and a former Chair of Young Scot.
Sue Bruce served in Local Government for almost 40 years, finishing in 2015. Her most recent post was as Chief Executive of The City of Edinburgh Council having previously served as Chief Executive at Aberdeen City Council and Chief Executive at East Dunbartonshire Council. Amongst her noteworthy achievements was the turnaround of the Edinburgh Tram Project, the establishment of the Edinburgh Guarantee and prior to that, the performance improvement of Aberdeen City Council.
Term: 31 March 2018 to 30 March 2022
Term: 31 March 2022 to 30 March 2026
Sarah Chambers was formerly the Chief Executive of the mail industry regulator, Postal Services Commission, between 2004 and 2008.
A former civil servant, Sarah has a wealth of experience in the regulatory and policy fields, having been a board and committee member of a number of public organisations, including the Competition and Markets Authority, Bar Standards Board and Judicial Appointments Commission.
Sarah is currently Chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel.
Term: 1 November 2018 to 31 October 2022
Term: 1 November 2022 to 31 October 2026
Stephen Gilbert is one of the four commissioners appointed under S.3 (a) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. This section provides for four Commissioners to be appointed after having been put forward by a political party. Stephen Gilbert was put forward by the Leader of the Conservative Party.
Lord Gilbert of Panteg (Stephen Gilbert) is a Conservative peer who entered the House of Lords in 2015.
He chairs the House of Lords Communications Select Committee.
He has held several senior positions in the Conservative party. These have included Head of Campaigning, Director of Campaign and Deputy Chief Executive as well as Political Secretary to the Prime Minister.
Term: 1 October 2022 to 30 September 2026
Term: 13 March 2017 to 12 March 2025
Professor Dame Elan Closs Stephens CBE is our Commissioner with responsibility for Wales.
Elan Closs Stephens is Emeritus Professor of Communications and Creative Industries at Aberystwyth University.
She has specialised in cultural and broadcasting regulatory policy, chairing the Stephens Review into the Welsh Arts Council and serving as Chair of the British Council in Wales, as a Governor of the British Film Institute and, for two terms, as Chair of S4C, the Welsh Fourth Channel. For the last six years until the end of the Charter, she has been the Wales Trustee on the BBC’s governing body, the BBC Trust.
She has been a Non Executive Director of the Permanent Secretary of Wales’s senior Board and has chaired the Board’s Audit and Risk Committee since 2008. She also chaired the Recovery Board for the Isle of Anglesey County Council. Elan is a first language Welsh speaker from the Nantlle Valley in North Wales and a graduate of Somerville College, Oxford.
She was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2001 for services to broadcasting and the Welsh language. She served as High Sheriff of the three counties of Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion 2012-13.
Term 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2028
Carole Mills is a highly experienced executive and non-executive (NED) who was employed in banking and the NHS before moving into local government where she served more than 33 years.
Carole has worked in five large unitary local authorities, most recently Derby City Council, holding the post of Chief Executive in three and Chief Finance Officer in two. In three of those councils she was also Returning Officer and has led the local administration of all types of local and national elections, from parish councils, BIDs and local neighbourhood plans to all out council elections, referendums and UKPEs. She’s also been a poll clerk, presiding officer, counting assistant, count team leader and Deputy Returning Officer, thereby accumulating over 25 years of practical election experience.
Carole retired from her full time career in Spring 2020 and has since held a portfolio of roles. Since 2020, she has been a NED, Chair of the Quality and Safety Committee, member of the People Committee and Maternity Safety Champion at the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust. Carole is also Chair and Trustee of Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust. Between 2017 and the autumn of 2023, she was a NED, Chair of the Operations Committee, and member of the Audit Committee at the social housing provider, Midland Heart.
Term: 1 September 2021 to 31 August 2025
Dr Katy Radford is a social anthropologist who currently serves on the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and works at the Commission for Victims and Survivors.
She recently completed terms as Vice Chair of the Arts Council for Northern Ireland, and as a Member of the Commission for Flags, Identity, Culture, and Tradition convened by The Executive Office. From 2011–2020, Katy was Acting Director of the Institute for Conflict Research. Katy was awarded an MBE in 2011 for her contribution to community relations in Northern Ireland.
Term: 1 Feb 2024 to 31 Jan 2027
Sheila Ewan Ritchie is a retired Scottish Liberal Democrat politician and solicitor. She was involved in politics for over 40 years and received an MBE in the 2023 New Year Honours List, for political service in Scotland.
Most recently, she stood as a candidate in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election. Prior to that, she was a Member of the European Parliament for the Scotland constituency from 2019-2020. Her other political roles include:
- Convener of the Scottish Lib Dems and member of the party’s Federal Board & Steering Group: 2018 - 2022
- Scottish Government appointee to the European Economic and Social Change Committee: 2000 - 2003
- Member of Gordon District Council and Chair of the Policy & Resources Committee: 1988 - 1996
Sheila qualified as a solicitor in 1981, before going into politics. She later became a partner at two Aberdeen-based law firms. She was General Council Assessor on the University of Aberdeen’s Court, 1980-1986; and a member of Langstane Housing Association’s Committee of Management and Chair of its Development Committee, 1981 - 1988. Sheila is involved with several charities.
Her current roles include:
- trustee of the Macaulay Development Trust, a sustainable land development non-profit
- trustee of Articulate Cultural Hub, which supports arts access and participation by those are least likely to engage in creative activity, or who face barriers
- Director of Celebrate Aberdeen, which pays tribute to Aberdeen’s volunteer and third sector community.
She is a former Trustee of the RSPB and has been a member of its Scottish Advisory Committee for over 30 years. She is a keen conservationist, gardener, an open water swimmer.
Term: 1 November 2022 to 31 October 2026