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 HM the Queen. 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 February 2021 to 31 January 2024
Alex Attwood was a Social Democratic and Labour Party Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly from 1998 until 2017. He also served as Minister for Social Development in the Northern Ireland Executive from February 2010 until May 2011, and as Minister of the Environment in the Northern Ireland Executive from May 2011 until July 2013.
The selection process for Commissioners is conducted by the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission within the UK Parliament. The Commissioner representing smaller parties is a ‘nominated commissioner’, which means the appointment is made from candidates put forward by the smaller political parties. As the UK Parliament has approved the motion to appoint Alex Attwood, the proposed appointment will now be submitted for royal assent by Her Majesty the Queen.
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 2016 to 31 December 2023
Rob Vincent served as Chief Executive of Kirklees Council from 2004 until 2010 and was a non-executive Director of DCLG from 2008-2010. Between 2010 and 2012 Mr Vincent led the intervention into Doncaster Council, at the request of the Secretary of State.
Most recently he has acted as an adviser to the Department of Health on the transition of the public health function from the NHS to local government.
Term: 1 November 2022 to 31 October 2026
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.