Helen Pitcher OBE appointed as Chairman of the Criminal Cases Review Commission

Helen Pitcher has been appointed as the next Chairman of the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

The appointment, for a period of three years beginning on 1st November 2018, was made by Her Majesty the Queen and announced to Parliament today by the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Justice.

Mrs Pitcher will be the fourth Chairman of the CCRC since it was set up in 1997 as the public body responsible for independently reviewing suspected miscarriages of justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mrs Pitcher has a wealth of boardroom and chairmanship experience in the commercial and not-for-profit sectors (see profile below).

She said: “I have a long-standing interest in criminal justice and have admired the work of the CCRC from afar so I am very pleased to be joining as Chairman. I hope my background of chairing boards in the commercial, charity and legal fields, and my experience in governance will add to the extensive expertise that already exists at the Commission.”

Mrs Pitcher will be involved at the Commission as Chairman designate until her appointment begins formally on 1st November.

Her predecessor, Richard Foster, will step down as Chairman of the Commission at the end of October having completed the maximum permitted term of ten years in the role.


Profile: Helen Pitcher OBE

Helen is currently 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.

A photograph is available on request.

This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 232 0906, on 07947 355231 or e-mail press@ccrc.gov.uk 

Notes for editors

  1. The Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently 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.
  1. 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.
  1. The Commission usually receives between 1,000 and 1,500 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. On average since 1997 it has referred around one in 35 applications to the appeal courts.
  1. 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”.
  1. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.
  1. More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at ccrc.gov.uk The Commission can be found on Twitter via the username @ccrcupdate.