Five new Commissioners appointed to the Criminal Cases Review Commission

Five new Commissioners have been appointed to the Criminal Cases Review Commission and the Chair of the Commission has been reappointed.

The newly appointed Commissioners are Alexandra Marks, Dr Sharon Persaud, David James Smith, Liz Calderbank and Andrew Rennison. Richard Foster CBE, who joined the Commission as Chair in November 2008, has been reappointed to serve for a further five years (see below for biographies of the Chair and each of the new Commissioners).

Commission Chief Executive Karen Kneller said: “This is great news for the Commission. These new appointments bring an excellent mix of skills and experience to the organisation. Commissioners are the people who are ultimately responsible for making the decisions about whether or not we refer individual cases for appeal so their role is absolutely fundamental to the work we do here. The arrival of these new Commissioners at a time when we are seeing sustained high levels of applications will significantly strengthen the Commission when we need it most.

 'We are also very pleased that Richard Foster will be staying on as Chair to continue with the good work we have been doing and with the real progress we have been making.'


Richard Foster CBE: took over as Chair of the Commission in November 2008. He was Chief Executive of the Crown Prosecution Service from 2001 to 2007 and is 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. He is married with two children.

Liz Calderbank: 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 leading 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 with the development of a youth justice strategy.

Alexandra Marks: 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 Chair of the Architects Registration Board’s Professional Conduct Committee, Legal Assessor to the Conduct Committees of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Chair of Prisoners Education Trust and a trustee of JUSTICE, and of Working Families. She recently stepped down after 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 married with two daughters and lives in central London.

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.

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.

Andrew Rennison MS.c: 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, an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Bournemouth and was recently conferred the title of Visiting Professor at Northumbria University.

Alexandra Marks, Dr Sharon Persaud, and David James Smith have been appointed for five years beginning 28 October 2013, and have a time commitment of two, four, and five days per week respectively. Liz Calderbank begins her five year appointment on 2 January 2014 with a time commitment of two days per week, and Andrew Rennison MS.c begins his five year appointment on 3 March 2014 with a time commitment of three days per week. The salary for the posts is £93,796 pro-rata.

This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 633 1806 or e-mail

Notes to Editors

  1. The Criminal Cases Review Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.
  2. There are currently 12 Commissioners who bring to the Commission considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.
  3. The Commission currently receives around 1,500 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year.  Typically, around 4%, or one in 25, of all applications are referred to the appeal courts.
  4. The Commission considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made.  New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal.  Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are 'exceptional circumstances'.
  5. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.