THE GOVERNMENT faced fresh accusations of "cronyism" last night over the expected appointment of a Labour peer as the first chairman of Ofcom, the new communications super-regulator.
Lord Currie of Marylebone, who has been a Labour peer since 1996, has been given the pounds 133,000-a-year job to regulate the TV, radio and telecommunications industry. The Tories said the hiring amounted to "blatant cronyism".
Lord Currie, the dean of City University Business School, is a leading economist and an ally of Gordon Brown, the Chancellor. He helped Mr Brown devise his original five tests on euro membership and wrote a paper setting out the definitive case for the Treasury's public-private partnership of London Underground.
Lord Currie's only previous regulatory experience was when he sat on the management board of Ofgem, the energy watchdog.
Ofcom will bring together five regulatory bodies, including the Independent Television Commission and the Radio Authority. The chairman's role will be to maintain quality, standards and competition.
John Whittingdale, the Tory trade and industry spokesman, said: "It's increasingly clear that in order to qualify for a top job in the media under this …