Professor Sampson to resign as Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner

Professor Fraser Sampson is to step down as Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner at the end of October.

Aug 7, 2023
By Paul Jacques
Fraser Sampson

In his letter of resignation to Home Secretary Suella Braverman, Professor Sampson said for personal reasons he would be out of the country for “a substantial period” towards the end of this year and was “unable to find a practical way” to continue to discharge his functions.

Professor Sampson was appointed on March 1, 2021, for a two-year term to cover the combined roles of Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner. The Government then agreed a short-term reappointment earlier this year to extend his role beyond February 28 when his tenure was due to end because of delays in the passage of the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill.

The Bill seeks to transfer the functions of the Biometrics Commissioner to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner. It would also remove the need for the Government to publish a Surveillance Camera Code of Practice, “rendering the functions of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner otiose”, says Professor Sampson.

In his resignation letter to Ms Braverman, Professor Sampson said: “I had been clear in discussion with officials that, for personal reasons, I would be out of the country for a substantial period towards the end of 2023 and, as the end of my term approached, I agreed to consider a short reappointment tied to the intended date on which the Bill would receive Royal Assent, envisaged at that time to fall within the same session of Parliament.

“Changes to the parliamentary timetable have resulted in the Bill not being expected to attain Royal Assent until the spring of 2024 at the earliest.

“Having explored a number of alternatives with officials, I am unable to find a practical way in which I can continue to discharge the functions of these two roles beyond November 1 and I must therefore give notice of my intention to resign on October 31, 2023, that being three months from the date of this letter.”

He added: “I shall, of course, continue to carry out the duties of the position in accordance with the terms of my reappointment for the notice period and wish my successor(s) well.”

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