Jeremy Wright, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, has appointed John Whittingdale as a trustee of the Royal Albert Hall.
Whittingdale is the Conservative MP for Maldon and was culture secretary between May 2015 and July 2016, having previously been the chair of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.
The Royal Albert Hall has 18 elected trustees and five which are appointed by bodies with close ties to the charity, one of which is DCMS.
DCMS’s current appointee is Gerald Bowden, a lawyer who had been a Conservative MP between 1983 and 1992. Whittingdale begins a three-year term on 1 September.
Ongoing governance issue
In January 2018 the attorney general, then Jeremy Wright, approved the Charity Commission’s request to refer an ongoing issue with the governance of the Royal Albert Hall to the Charity Tribunal but this was withdrawn in March after the charity threatened to seek judicial review
The Commission has been engaging with the Royal Albert Hall over a number of years about concerns that 19 of 25 of its ruling council are seatholders at the hall.
This means they can sell tickets privately at inflated prices, under the hall’s Royal Charter which dates back to the 1860s. This has led to questions about whether trustees are perceived to benefit financially from their role.