New Ofcom chief denies cronyism charge

Lord Currie insists that his links to the Labour Party played no part in his appointment as chair of Ofcom

The newly appointed head of forthcoming super-regulator Ofcom, Lord David Currie, has denied claims from opposition MPs that he was appointed because of his links to the government.

Lord Currie rubbished allegations of cronyism on Thursday, and said that the selection procedure had been independent and fair. He insisted that the fact he has donated money to the Labour Party in the past and has given economic advice to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown played no part in his appointment.

"In the whole of my professional life I have expressed my own independent views based on my best judgement of the issues. I will continue to do so as chairman of Ofcom," Lord Currie told The Times, adding that he would avoid any public activity that could be deemed political. Lord Currie resigned from the Labour Party before his appointment was announced.

Lord Currie was responding to comments made by Tim Yeo, shadow trade and industry secretary, on Thursday.

According to Yeo, Lord Currie's appointment suggests that Ofcom may not be fully independent from government. "I think it's a pity that we find yet another person in a position of power who is an active Labour member," Yeo said.

The government has insisted that Lord Currie's lack of telecommunications experience does not mean he is a poor choice to lead Ofcom. "The decision has been taken that Lord Currie is the best person to lead Ofcom," a DTI spokesman told ZDNet UK. "Once Ofcom is up and running he will be able to call on the skills and experiences of the members of the Ofcom board," he added.

Ofcom will replace five existing regulators, including Oftel.

For a round-up of everything from local loop unbundling and broadband to the latest in GPRS and 3G phones and networks, see the Telecoms News Section.

Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Go to the Telecoms forum .

Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom.