Ministerial appointments to public bodies: training pack for independent panel members

The recruitment process for many ministerial appointees is independently regulated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner, requiring compliance with the Commissioner’s 2022 Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies. This training pack is for independent panel members.

9. Ensuring integrity, transparency and openness

The Code states:

The appointments process must be open, fair and impartial. The integrity of the process must be transparent and earn the trust and have the confidence of the public.

Respect for applicants

There should be no surprises for applicants. Advertising material should make clear what criteria is sought and how the selection panel will carry out an assessment.

The selection panel should agree points of feedback during their wash up at the final stage of assessment (normally the interview).

Fit and proper person tests

Checking that candidates meet this high standard of propriety, impartiality and integrity is a key part of the appointments process.

The Code of Practice requires that all appointment rounds conduct a 'fit and proper person test' of those recommended for appointment (see E6 of the Code). This test can be conducted by the appointing Minister, but is more usually delegated to the panel.

The following activities check applicants against the fit and proper test:

Application stage

  • Applicants are asked to declare if they know anyone on the selection panel.

Interview and any other assessment stage

  • Political declaration form completed by applicants and shared with the selection panel in advance of the interview
  • Optional social media checks completed by the Public Appointments Team and shared with the selection panel in advance of the interview
  • Questions from the PAA or panel members concerning any issues arising from declarations and information required at E6 of the Code.

Prior to appointment

  • Once the appointing Minister has made their decision an appointment letter is issued subject to satisfactory completion of pre-appointment checks.

Conflict of interest

As a member of the selection panel, you should be alert to any conflict of interest and be prepared to raise any concerns that you might have with the chair of the panel.

Examples of circumstances that may arise:

  • An applicant declares that they know a member of the selection panel
  • An applicant declares a business interest in the area that the board will have influence over such as a policy or service that relates to their business
  • An applicant is a member of an organisation that has a poor public perception or has been involved in challenging circumstances e.g. financial mismanagement
  • An applicant works for a voluntary sector organisation that actively lobbies Scottish Ministers or Scottish Government
  • An applicant has contributed funds to the political party which the appointing Minister belongs to.



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