Decisions about whether or not cases can be referred are always taken by one or more of our Commissioners who are chosen for their professional experience and ability to make important decisions in complicated matters. Cases are generally passed to Commissioners on a ‘cab rank’ basis. All our Commissioners decide all types of cases. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Our Commissioners are:

The Chairman

Helen Pitcher OBE became Chairman of the Commission on 1 November 2018.

Helen is Chairman of the multi-billion pound international business of Pladis Global (United Biscuits, Godiva, Ülker Bisküvi), Chairman of leading board effectiveness consultancy Advanced Boardroom Excellence Ltd, and Chairman of KidsOut, a national charity for disadvantaged children. She is a board member of the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personal Development) which promotes better work and working lives, and is President of the INSEAD Global Directors Network.

Helen has an MA, LLB (Law), from Queen Mary’s College London. She was, for eight years until 2017, Chairman of the Queen’s Counsel Selection Panel and is a former member of the Professional Conduct Committee of the Bar Council. She has also been a panel member of the Employment Appeal Tribunal for more than 17 years and is on the Advisory Board for Leeds University Law Faculty.

In 2015 Helen Pitcher was awarded an OBE for services to business.

Rachel Ellis

Ms Ellis is currently an Ombudsman with the Financial Ombudsman Service working within the jurisdiction division of the Service. She has worked in a number of areas within the Service and has been involved in training adjudicators, external liaison and making policy decisions. Ms Ellis previously worked as a criminal barrister and was instructed to act on behalf of both the prosecution and defence in a comprehensive range of criminal proceedings. She represented a diverse range of clients including youths and clients with mental health problems and appeared in sensitive cases including sexual offences. During her time in Chambers, Ms Ellis also undertook a secondment with the Regulatory Team at the Nursing and Midwifery Council. This involved regularly appearing for the Council in complex and sensitive cases before the Conduct and Competence Committee and the Health Committee.

Jill Gramann JP

Mrs Gramann currently serves on the Sentencing Council of England and Wales as the lay judicial member. She has been a Justice of the Peace since 1990 and has held a number of posts within the magistracy including three years as a bench chairman. She was also a Non-Executive Director of Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust until July 2017 with specific portfolio responsibilities for adult mental health and patient and carer experience. Mrs Gramann has previously held posts as a Director and Trustee of disability charities BILD (British Institute of Learning Disability) and SCOPE. By profession, Mrs Gramann was a market research consultant with her own business for 30 years providing strategic guidance to both public and private sector organisations.

Celia Hughes

is a very experienced criminal defence solicitor who has worked in leading practices in London and Bristol specialising in complex cases and organised crime.  She has previously served as an independent peer reviewer for the Legal Services Commission. In the last four years she has had an exclusively appellate practice and has supervised her firm’s Appeals Unit.

Stephen Leach CB

is a retired senior civil servant and was Chair of the Northern Ireland Criminal Justice Board from 2000 to 2009. He is a Non Executive Director of the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Board (chairing the Board’s Audit and Governance Committees) and a Parole Commissioner.

Linda Lee

Ms Lee is a solicitor specialising in regulatory and disciplinary law at national law firm Radcliffes Le Brasseur. Ms Lee is a Past President of the Law Society of England and Wales (2010-11) and is a Law Society Council Member. She has held various key roles at the Law Society including Chair of the Representation and Legal Affairs and Policy Board and Regulatory Affairs Board and is currently the Chair of the Regulatory Process Committee. She is a member of the Audit Committee and the Access to Justice Committee. She is also Chair of the Solicitors Assistance Scheme which provides advice and assistance to solicitors facing disciplinary proceedings. Ms Lee is a legal chair for the Taxation Disciplinary Board, the Phone-paid Services Authority, the Family Health Services Appeals Unit of the NHS Litigation Authority and the General Medical Council. She is also an independent panel member for HS2. She lectures and writes on legal and regulatory issues and is a director of the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting.

Jennifer Portway

Ms Portway is currently an Independent Member and Panel Chair on the Parole Board, a Specialist Member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeal Tribunal, an Independent Member of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (Fitness to Practise hearings) and a Volunteer Member on Police Misconduct Hearings. Ms Portway is a solicitor (currently non-practising) and has previously held posts with the Crown Prosecution Service including Senior Crown Prosecutor and Senior Policy Adviser (national lead for victims and witnesses).

Robert Ward CBE QC (Hon)

Mr Ward is a barrister who has had an extensive career as a Government Lawyer. Most recently Mr Ward led the legal branch at the Ministry of Defence during a period of substantial change and expansion. His specialism is national security law and he has participated in its development on a national and international basis. Prior to entering Government Service, Mr Ward was in independent practice and taught Criminal, Constitutional and Public Law at the University of Cambridge. He is co-author of a leading text book on sexual offences law and practice.

Learn more: Our history