High hopes for new stats boss to hold government to account on dodgy data

Tim Wallace
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ECONOMIST Andrew Dilnot will be the next chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, after the government’s favoured candidate was rejected as insufficiently independent.

Independent statistics are “unbelievably important,” Dilnot told the public administration select committee, which approved his appointment. “You cannot do anything unless you know what the world looks like,” he added.

Committee chairman Bernard Jenkin said: “Dilnot is one of the best known advocates of statistics in this country.

“We were impressed by his enthusiasm for better communication of statistical issues.”

The authority’s first chairman, Sir Michael Scholar received praise for confronting ministers when they appeared to use statistics in a misleading fashion.

The government wanted Dame Janet Finch, former vice-chancellor of Keel University to replace him.

However, the committee grilled her in June and found her lacking in independence, with some members fearing she would be a “stooge” for the government.

She withdrew her candidacy, leading Scholar to continue in the role until Dilnot takes over next year.