Ultra vires?

Amid all the wailing and gnashing of teeth which accompanied news of the re-appointment of The Man Who Inspects Schools For The Queen came one rather more hard-headed reaction.

A Diary anorak - who shall remain nameless - made straight for his reference books and spent some time poring over details of 1996 education legislation. Triumphant, he dialled the Diary's bunker deep in the bowels of The TES.

Deep Anorak opens by pointing out that the letter inviting Chris Woodhead to stay on for a further five years - with oodles more dosh thrown in - is a personal missive from Education Secretary David Blunkett.

He continues: "According to the Schools Inspection Act section one, part one, Her Majesty may by order in Council appoint a person to the office of Her Majesty's chief inspector of schools in England. It doesn't say anything about the re-appointing being done in any other way."

The Diary, wondering whether Mr W will shortly be calling on the services of an employment law specialist - apparently someone called Cherie Booth does rather well in that field - dials Mr Blunkett's spokesman.

Wearily, he assures us that it is indeed within Mr B's powers to appoint and re-appoint in the post, and these matters have been thoroughly checked. For pragmatic reasons, it seems: "Otherwise someone would have challenged it and it would have ended up in the courts."

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