Victim commissioner resigns, says she has been ‘sidelined’

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ictims commissioner Dame Vera Baird accused ministers of “downgrading” the interests of victims to the government’s priorities and of “side-lining” her office.

In a letter to Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis, Dame Vera said that under her predecessor, Dominic Raab, she had been twice invited to apply for a second term in office, which was due to expire in June.

However, despite assurances from the Ministry of Justice that he was considered an “appointed” candidate, no appointment was made and the recruitment process was being re-run.

“Asking me to apply again, given that two opportunities for re-appointment have already passed, and that my office is no longer given much access to ministers, giving me the status of the nominal office holder in the post.” It takes a trick to keep it in form. Shorter than an actual invitation,” she said.

“Together, the Victims’ Bill remains inadequate and the ‘British Bill of Rights’ threatens victims’ human rights so severely that it undermines the little progress made to bring a Victims’ Bill.

“The side-lining of the Office of the Commissioner of Victims and the curious recruitment process, along with undermining the interests of the victims in the government’s priorities, make it clear to me that staying beyond my current position will achieve nothing for the victims. .

In such a situation, my term will end on 30 September.

Dame Vera, a former Labor MP, solicitor general and police and crime commissioner for Northumbria, was originally appointed in 2019 for victims’ rights.

However, in her letter, she said that unlike her predecessor she was not offered an automatic second term, although she was “strongly encouraged” to apply when the competition opened earlier this year. .

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At the same time she complained of a lack of access to ministers, and she had not met Mr Raab even once as he had invited her to reapply in February.

“The lack of top-notch engagement at a time of great upheaval for victims reflects poorly on the priorities of the Ministry of Justice and the approach of the government,” she said.

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