Body: The Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group (BFEG)
Appointing Department: Home Office
Sectors: Communities, Regulation
Location: Mostly London
Skills required: Regulation
Number of Vacancies: 5 - (1 Chair and 4 Members)
Remuneration: Chair Role is unremunerated, but travel and subsistence expenses incurred on BFEG business will be reimbursed. No allowances will be payable, and you will not be eligible for any form of bonus payment. Members role is unremunerated, but members will be reimbursed for travel expenses incurred whilst carrying out business on behalf of the BFEG, in line with Home Office policy.
Time Requirements: Chair Role: The expected time commitment is a minimum of 30 days per year, depending on the BFEG’s work programme. Members Role: The expected time commitment is 10-15 days per year.


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

Mark Watson-Gandy has been named as the new chair of the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group.
Professor Mark Watson-Gandy is a practising barrister, author and company chairman.
Mark is experienced in advising government having been a former junior counsel to the crown.
Mark has considerable experience of chairing committees. Since 2014 he has been chair of Mental Health First Aid England, a community interest company launched under the Department of Health: National Institute of Mental Health in England (NIMHE) as part of a national approach to improving public mental health. Mark also chairs the Disciplinary Appeals Committee of the Institute of Financial Accountants and is Head of Professional Standards for the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, a statutory supervisory body.
The author of several legal text books Mark is also a special lecturer at Cass Business School, a visiting professor at the University of Westminster and a member of court at the University of Essex.
Mark takes over from Christopher Hughes, OBE who has been the BFEG Chair since 2009.
As chair, Mark will provide leadership and support, working with the BFEG committee members and the secretariat to ensure provision of impartial, balanced, objective advice and guidance to ministers within the remit of the BFEG.
Mark Watson-Gandy said:
I am thrilled to join the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group as its chair and to have the chance to work with such an amazing and inspirational team. This is an enormously exciting time to join the group and – particularly in the area of big data – there are some challenging issues that need to be wrestled with.
Mark Watson Gandy took up his appointment on 27 September 2019.

The Biometrics and Forensics Ethics group announce the recruitment of 4 new members. The new members come from diverse backgrounds, with expertise across digital privacy, biometric systems, information policy and ethics.
Mark Watson-Gandy, Chair of the BFEG, said:
I’m delighted to be welcoming these new members to be part of the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group. They bring a wealth of experience and will help us to provide independent advice to the Home Office on the ethical impact of all aspects of biometrics, particularly around data ethics.
The 4 new members are:
Dr Nóra Ni Loideain – Director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London
Dr Richard Guest – Reader in Biometrics Systems Engineering and Deputy Head of the School of Engineering and Digital Arts, University of Kent
Professor Charles Rabb – Turing Fellow at the University of Edinburgh
Dr Julian Huppert – Director and Fellow at the Intellectual Forum, Jesus College Cambridge.
The new members joined the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group at the group’s plenary meeting on 25 September 2019.

Date: 10/10/2019

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Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications


  • Panel Sift

    9 May and 15 May

  • Final Interview Date

    week commencing 3 June 2019

  • Announcement

    10/10/2019 at 00:00

Shortlist is expected to take place week commencing 6 May. Interviews are expected to take place week commencing 3 June 2019.


Assessment Panel

  • Professor Tom Sorell Added 02/04/2019

    Panel Chair

    Deputy BFEG Chair

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  • Professor John Aston Added 02/04/2019

    Panel Chair

    Home Office Chief Scientific Adviser

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  • Dr Jo Wallace Added 02/04/2019

    Head of Home Office Science and Regulatory Secretariats, Home Office • Departmental Official

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  • Imogen Block Added 02/04/2019

    Senior Policy Advisor, Data Ethics Policy Team, Department for Culture, Media and Sport • Independent Member

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  • Alex Macdonald Added 02/04/2019

    Home Office Data & Identity Deputy Director and BFEG policy sponsor

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  • Samantha Harris Added 02/04/2019

    Government Office for Science • Independent Member

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Vacancy Description


The Chair of the BFEG will be expected to deliver a key leadership role by harnessing the energy and expertise of BFEG members to deliver timely advice to Ministers.  To enable this, the successful candidate will be required to develop and foster strong and constructive relationships with BFEG members and senior stakeholders, including Ministers, Parliament, Devolved Administrations, Government officials, and practitioners.

The Chair will, on behalf of the membership, provide the primary interface to Government Ministers and other stakeholders, including the public and media.

The Chair is accountable for ensuring the timely delivery of the BFEG’s programme of work.

The Chair will develop and foster strong working relationships with the BFEG’s Secretariat as well as policy officials from departments, including the Home Office.

The BFEG Chair will meet, at a minimum, annually with the Minister responsible for biometrics and forensics.

In common with BFEG members, the Chair of the BFEG is appointed as an individual and not as a representative of any particular profession, employer or interest group. The Chair will be expected to act in the public interest at all times, considering all issues from an independent perspective and on merit.

Key responsibilities


The main responsibilities of the BFEG Chair are to:

  • Provide leadership and ensure provision of impartial, balanced, objective advice and guidance to ministers on ethical issues relating to the use of biometrics and forensics;
  • Discuss, and mutually agree with the Home Office policy sponsor, a rolling programme of work streams to be taken forward;
  • Ensure that the business of the BFEG is expedited efficiently and effectively in a consistent, fair, transparent and objective manner;
  • Chair the BFEG’s quarterly plenary meetings;
  • Act corporately with other members of the BFEG, ensuring all can provide their views;
  • Respond to issues of concern raised by individual BFEG members;
  • Adjudicate in any matters where BFEG members are unable to reach consensus, ensuring that outcomes represent the breadth of members’ considerations and that uncertainties in the evidence base are made clear;
  • Ensure that annual performance appraisals of members are undertaken and an annual report for the BFEG is published;
  • Represent the BFEG in discussions with other agencies/relevant stakeholders as required; and
  • Maintain liaison with the relevant policy leadership.



Members of the BFEG are appointed as individuals to fulfil the role of the group and have a duty to act in the public interest. Members are not appointed as representatives of their profession, employer or interest group.

Committee members are expected to:

  • Attend and contribute to quarterly plenary BFEG meetings and subgroup meetings, as necessary; and
  • Act corporately with other members to ensure that the BFEG fulfils its responsibilities by providing ministers and the Department with impartial, independent, balanced and objective ethical advice on issues within the group’s remit.

Members also have responsibility for:

  • Developing the evidence base of topics under consideration to formulate advice;
  • Examining and challenging, if necessary, the assumptions on which advice is formulated;
  • Ensuring that the BFEG where appropriate the concerns and values of stakeholders are considered before a decision is taken; and
  • Ensuring the BFEG acts in accordance with the Code of Practice for members, which incorporates the Seven Principles of Public Life and the Code of Practice for Science Advisory Committees.

Person Specification


It is essential in your supporting statement that you provide evidence and proven examples against each of the selection criteria in Part One (Essential Criteria) only of the person specification.

At this stage responses to Part Two (Personal Qualities) should not be provided. Responses to the criteria listed in Part Two will only be required if candidates are invited for interview.

Part one – essential criteria

Applicants should be able to evidence the following skills and experience:

Committee experience at a senior level including experience of chairing high profile multi-disciplinary meetings and facilitating discussion through to agreed conclusions;

Experience of working with Government, and an understanding of the policy and policy environment and a clear understanding of the role of scientific and ethical advice in informing policy in an area of political and public attention and sensitivity;

The ability to draw out an appropriate balance of ethical, legal and moral issues and considerations in relation to these of public interest and importance;

Strong communication, negotiating and interpersonal skills to build effective working relationships with Ministers, policy owners, Government departments, and other key stakeholders, including the scientific community, practitioners and law enforcement; and

Ability to think logically and objectively to analyse complex information and identify key issues and make effective decisions, including excellent judgement under pressure.

Part two – personal qualities

The confidence and ability to take overall accountability for the BFEG’s work and representing the BFEG when required before Government ministers;

Empathetic but decisive leadership that makes progress through consensus;

Projecting confidence and authority in public appearances.

Flexibility of thought.

Decisiveness and independence.


To complement its existing skills and knowledge, the BFEG is seeking up to 4 new members. Applicants should have demonstrable expertise as either:

  • A legal professional with considerable knowledge of forensic science, biometric data and the ethics of consent.
  • A social scientist with considerable knowledge of the social and ethical impact of technological innovations upon individuals; or
  • A data ethicist with experience of working with large data sets and who can demonstrate experience of applying this to issues across the biometric, forensic and criminal justice arena or other relevant fields.

In addition to the above your supporting statement should provide evidence of your skills and experience against the essential and desirable selection criteria set out below.  Please be clear about the scale and significance of your role/achievement.  The evidence you provide against the selection criteria will be used by the selection panel to determine your suitability for the role.

Essential skills and experience

  • An understanding of the breadth and depth of ethical issues related to the collection, storage and use of biometric and forensic information and data;
  • The ability to think logically and objectively to analyse complex information from diverse sources, identify key issues and make effective impartial and balanced decisions;
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including the ability to work collaboratively with committee members and stakeholders and to actively and constructively contribute to discussions, negotiating between conflicting opinions and values and generating options to reach consensus;
  • The confidence to deal with difficult situations sensitively and take accountable decisions;
  • An appreciation of equality and diversity and a willingness to champion difference; and
  • An awareness of how the views of the scientific community and the public are changing politically and socially.


  • Evidence of working successfully in a professional, community or voluntary capacity on committees or other decision-making groups and reaching impactful and timely conclusions.

Additional Information

The successful candidate will be required to have or to be willing to obtain security clearance to Security Check (SC) level. Pre-appointment checks will also be undertaken on immigration and criminal convictions. It usually takes between four and five weeks to obtain the security clearance. The role will be offered on a conditional basis until the successful candidate has passed all checks.

How to Apply

Please send your completed application comprising CV, supporting statement and Annex A supporting document to:

190227 - Annex A - Supporting Documentation - BFEG
190402 - BFEG Chair and Members - Candidate Pack - Final
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