Public covid probe seeks data leader to take on ‘critical role for the inquiry’s reputation’

Post comes with £70,000-plus salary and responsibility for data protection 

Credit: Grooveland Designs/Pixabay

The UK Covid-19 Inquiry is seeking a senior manager to oversee the management, publication and protection of data.

The successful applicant for the post of head of information management will sit lead a team responsible for making sure the inquiry complies with data-protection and human rights legislation in its “handling [of] significant volumes of sensitive material”. The data-management leader will also be expected to ensure that “the inquiry’s official report and records are archived in line” with these laws.

“[The] head of information management [is] a critical role for the reputation of the inquiry,” the job advert said. “In addition to information-management experience at a senior level, the successful candidate must be flexible and innovative: ensuring that the Inquiry complies with public sector data-management best practice, but also with the ability to handle the specific challenges of this inquiry. The postholder requires an understanding of political impact to support the inquiry’s statutory office holders and senior team in navigating the expectations of both individual and corporate core participants.”

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The role – for which applications are open until 12 December – will require “excellent technical knowledge of information-management principles, practice and technology, records management, risk, data protection, [and] understanding of GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018, including the proven ability to provide training and guidance”.

Candidates invited for interview will be expected to “declare any actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interests which could affect the independence of the inquiry”. This can be done in confidence, the advert said, and decisions related to any possible conflict of interest will be taken before anyone is appointed. 

The successful applicant will be appointed to a two-year contract, and will be paid an annual salary of between £61,710 and £72,295.

The long-awaited public inquiry set out its terms of reference earlier this year, which include the construction of a “factual narrative account” of the impact of and response to the coronavirus pandemic across all four countries of the UK, followed by the identification of lessons learned. 

Among the key areas for assessment will be “how decisions were made, communicated and implemented; intergovernmental decision-making; [and] the availability and use of data and evidence”.

Investigative work has now begun and an online platform for was recently launched to enable  the general public to anonymously share their experiences of the pandemic.

The inquiry, chaired by Baroness Heather Hallett, is expected to begin hearing witness evidence from spring 2023.


Sam Trendall

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