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. Each is appointed for a period of up to five years and can, if re-appointed, serve for a maximum of ten years. Our Commissioners are:
The Chair – Richard Foster CBE
Richard Foster took over as Chair of the CCRC in November 2008. He was Chief Executive of the Crown Prosecution Service from 2001 to 2007 and is currently Chair of the Refugee Council. He was Director, Welfare to Work Delivery, responsible for New Deals from 1998 to 2001 and is a former Director of the Employment Service in the Department for Education and Employment.
He was also First Secretary (Stockholm) with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1981 to 1984 and was Principal Private Secretary to the Minister of State, Department of Employment. Mr Foster was educated at Devonport High School for Boys and at Pembroke College, Cambridge.
From 31st March 2017, Mr Foster will also be the part-time Chair of the South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.
joined the then Greater Manchester Probation Service in 1984 and worked in both an operational and managerial capacity before leaving as Assistant Chief Probation Officer to join HM Inspectorate of Probation in 1998. As an inspector, she led the inspection Towards Race Equality, examining institutional racism within the probation service. She subsequently was appointed as HM Assistant Chief Inspector and was responsible for setting up the first multi-inspectorate joint inspection programme examining the work of the youth offending teams. She has led the inspectorate in an interim capacity as Chief Inspector since August 2011. Whilst in the inspectorate, Liz has also undertaken several short placements in Jamaica, advising the Jamaican Government on the implementation of inspection arrangements, work with women who offend and the development of a youth justice strategy.
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.
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.
David James Smith
is an award winning journalist and author. He has written extensively about crime and criminal justice issues, conducting detailed investigations into some of the most high profile cases of recent years.He has written five non-fiction books including The Sleep Of Reason – The James Bulger Case and Supper With The Crippens about the Edwardian murderer Hawley Harvey Crippen. David’s longform journalism for The Sunday Times Magazine won him Broadsheet Feature Writer Of The Year at the British Press Awards in 2011 and again in 2012.
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.
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.
Alexandra Marks CBE
qualified as a solicitor in 1983. After 27 years at Linklaters, she retired as a partner in June 2011. She sits as a Recorder (Crime and Civil) and as a High Court Deputy (QBD and Administrative Court).
In January 2012, Alexandra was appointed Solicitor Commissioner of the Judicial Appointments Commission. She is also Chair of Prisoners’ Education Trust. She served for 11 years as Chair of Amnesty International Charity Limited. Alexandra is past Master of the City of London Solicitors’ Company (2008-09) and past President of the City of London Law Society (2008-09).
She is a council member of the all-party law reform organisation JUSTICE and sat on JUSTICE’s Miscarriage of Justice Working Party (1988-89).
Alexandra was awarded the Law Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 and was made a CBE in HM the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in June 2017.
Dr Sharon Persaud
was a solicitor & partner at Bindman & Partners, practising exclusively in criminal defence. In 2010, she became a specialist appeals lawyer in the Criminal Appeal Office at the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division.) She was an independent peer reviewer for the Legal Services Commission and has lectured on criminal law, evidence and procedure. She has a doctorate in law and sociology.
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).
Andrew Rennison MSc.
was appointed by the Home Secretary in February 2008 as the first Forensic Science Regulator. His principal role is to set and monitor the quality standards for forensic science in the criminal justice system. In December 2009 the role was extended when he was appointed to advise the government on the regulation of surveillance camera systems, leading to his appointment as the Surveillance Camera Commissioner in September 2012. Prior to moving into regulation he completed a 30 year career with the police. He holds a Master of Science degree in psychology and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Bournemouth.
Ranjit Sondhi CBE
is currently a Commissioner of the Judicial Appointments Commission. He is also a member of the Bar Standards Board Equality and Diversity Committee. He has served as a BBC Governor, as Deputy Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality and as Chair of the Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust. He has also sat on a number of other governing bodies including the National Gallery and the Tenant Services Authority.
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