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The Committee

The Committee was first established in early 2005 to oversee the operation of the Waterways Ombudsman scheme and the independence and accessibility of the Ombudsman.

The Committee has five independent members (including the current chair - Karen McArthur), with the provision in the rules for no more than eight.  There is one non-voting observer appointed by each Scheme Member and two who are appointed by the Canal & River Trust. Full details of the membership of the Committee are given in the latest Annual Report and full details of their role in the Rules of the Waterways Ombudsman Scheme September 2020.

The main roles of the Committee are:

  • the appointment (or removal from office) of the Ombudsman;
  • keeping the operation of the scheme under review, both to ensure that it meets its purposes and that it is adequately funded;
  • to receive reports on the method and adequacy of publicising the scheme;
  • to publish an annual report.

Issues relating to the investigation or determination of complaints are matters for the Ombudsman alone, and the Committee has no part to play in those.

The current Committee members are:

Independent members

Karen McArthur

Karen McArthur had leadership roles in Corporate Responsibility/Sustainability for global companies including Vodafone and Thomson Reuters and now has a portfolio of focusing on consumers and protection across a range of sectors including, transport, housing, water, energy, data, products and services, setting and upholding standards.

In addition to NED roles she is Chair/Lay for a number of regulatory bodies.

Alan Collins is a partner at Hugh James solicitors and is a specialist in complex personal injury and clinical negligence cases, including child abuse cases in the UK and abroad. He has experience of representing interested parties before public inquiries including the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, and IICSA. He was the advocate to the People's Tribunal (UKCSAPT) which, in 2016, presented its report to the UK Parliament. He is a fellow of APIL, and the treasurer of ACAL.

Alan is regularly called upon to comment in the media on legal issues and is also a speaker at conferences : UNICEF; La Trobe University; University of Wales; Law Society of Scotland; Strathclyde University; and Dyfed-Powys Police.

Jane Brothwood held a range of senior leadership roles in HM Revenue and Customs. Most recently, as Head of the Adjudicator's Office, investigating complaints about HM Revenue & Customs, the Valuation Office Agency and Home Office Windrush Compensation Scheme and promoting a culture of learning from complaints. In addition, Jane was also chair of the Ombudsman Association Casework Interest Group, sharing best practice and learning from Ombudsman schemes. 

She is chair of Governors for a local primary school and is a Foundation Governor for a local Church of England primary school federation.  She has recently been appointed as a lay panel member for the Teacher Regulation Agency.

Alison Jack works in a management role at the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO). Her team independently review welfare benefit applications, and promote learning and improvement in decision making. She is also an active member of the organisation’s Wellbeing Action Group and Service Improvement Forum.

Prior to joining the SPSO, she worked for a local authority, managing an advice service, and was a trustee for Money Advice Scotland. She has a keen interest in consumer rights and promoting access to justice. 

Warren Seddon joined the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office in May 2021 where he leads on work related to the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations. This includes oversight of the casework teams that make decisions on complaints about the handling of information requests by public bodies, as well as all related policy, enforcement and upstream regulation work. He joined the ICO from his role as Director of Strategy, Insight and Communications at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, where he had been since 2017. Before that he was at the Electoral Commission and held a number of roles in the UK Civil Service.

Members appointed by Scheme Body Members

Geoff Crane representing Avon Navigation Trust. Geoff has been a trustee, council member, Reach master, Patrol Officer, Volunteer and member of the Avon Navigation Trust (ANT) since 2018. Before retirement in 2019, he worked for NFU Mutual and, for many years, was involved in managing Insurance Ombudsman complaints. He believes strongly in the importance of excellence in consumer care and is a firm believer in the principles of equity and natural justice.  He is delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the work of the Waterways Ombudsman Scheme to further ANT’s commitment to maintaining high standards for all users of the River Avon.

Members appointed by the Canal & River Trust

Tom Deards is the head of legal & governance services, and company secretary. He has responsibility for the legal and governance functions of the Trust. He is a qualified solicitor who joined the Trust’s legal team in 2007, having trained and qualified into the asset finance team at City law firm Clifford Chance, before going on to complete a Legal Masters at UCL in Environmental Law, whilst gaining experience working as an environment and planning lawyer in local government. Tom is the Trust’s Company Secretary and Data Protection Officer.

Janet Hogben was appointed as a Trustee Director of the Canal & River Trust in September 2016 and is Chair of the Trust’s Remuneration Committee and is a member of the Infrastructure Committee. 

Janet was previously the Chief People Officer at EDF Energy, a role she retired from at the end of 2017. Her earlier career spanned many functions and leadership roles in various blue chip companies.

Janet also sits as a Non Executive Advisor on the Heart, Lung & Critical Care Group of Guys and St Thomas' Hospital Trust.