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Ofcom boardroom musical chairs runs out of seats

Watchdog maxes out bigwig ration

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Ofcom, the best-paid quango in all of Quangistan, has replaced one board member with two new ones, bumping its quota of directors to ten - the maximum allowable by its charter.

Retiring non-executive Sara Nathan is being replaced with Newsnight editor-turned broadcasting suit Tim Gardam and Colette Bowe, who's effectively being promoted from her job as erstwhile chair of the Ofcom Consumer Panel.

The pair will trouser £41,281 a piece annually for a maximum two days work per week.

Ofcom periodically attracts press attention for its generous salaries, drawn from the public purse. At the last count, 11 of the top 100 civil service pay cheques were dished out by the communications watchdog.

Bowe is quitting the Ofcom Consumer Panel, a putatively independent sub-quango that represents consumer interests. Most recently it has jumped on the bandwagon against deceitful broadband advertising.

She hit headlines in the 1980s as a government economist during the Westland helicopter affair. A leaked memo damaging Michael Heseltine, who was at war with Margaret Thatcher and Bowe's DTI boss Leon Brittan, was traced to her.

After falling on her sword and keeping schtum about whether she was told to release the memo, Bowe went on to pursue a lucrative career sitting on City and quango boards. She's currently on the board of Axa Framlington, Morgan Stanley Bank International, Electra Private Equity and Goldfish Bank.

She is also a member of the Statistics Commission and is chairman of council at Queen Mary College, London.

She said on Monday: "I am delighted to be able to continue my work on behalf of consumers as a Member of the Ofcom Board."

Tim Gardam carried out the Department of Culture, Media and Sport's 2004 review of the BBC's public service obligations. We can't imagine an editor with his CV would ever actually say this without biting his own tongue off in disgust, but here's the canned quote provided on Gardam's appointment: "I am delighted to be joining the Ofcom Board and look forward to contributing to the issues facing consumers and citizens in the converged media world following digital switchover."

It was also revealed yesterday that former Ofcom top banana and PR honcho Stephen Carter has been appointed Gordon Brown's spinmeister general. More here. ®

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