Throughout the face of concerns regarding Toby Young’s suitability in public office, his appointment as a watchdog over higher education has been defended by the Department for Education.

OFS Member

This week Toby Young, former journalist and advocate of free schools has been appointed as a member of the board of OFS, Office for Students, by Justine Greening, secretary of education, and now faces claims of under qualification.

Due to several remarks, Young has made regarding eugenics, women and the working class have been spotlighted raising concern over his suitability for the role.

He made an appearance on the television series Top Chef and referred to Padma Lakshmi’s breasts repeatedly on his Twitter account. He also made several comments of a similar nature when discussing other women which included a particular Labour MP and Claudia Winkleman.

Thousands of such tweets were removed from his account this Wednesday after receiving criticisms about his comments. According to the Guardian, Young said on Tuesday that posted over 56,000 tweets with less than 8,500 remaining as of Wednesday.

The government drew up the role’s specification in which ministers expect all members of the board to encompass “high standards of … personal conduct”, requiring “openness” as well as “transparency”.

In response to queries about Young’s previous comments, the spokesperson for the Department for Education explained that Young already “expressed his regrets”.

“Public appointments, including to the OfS, are made in line with the code of governance for public appointments,” she stated.

Comments On Twitter

Upon contact with the Guardian this Wednesday, he declined to discuss although he previously admitted to posting “politically incorrect” and “sophomoric” tweets.

However, in favour of Young’s position Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, stated that he feels responses were a “ridiculous outcry” regarding Young’s appointment and that he believes he will “bring independence, rigour and caustic wit” to the Office of Students. “Ideal man for the job,” Johnson posted on Twitter.

Responding to Johnson’s statement, the environment secretary, Michael Gove tweeted: “Quite right too – how many of Toby Young’s critics have worked night and day to provide great state schools for children of every background?”

Margot James, Conservative MP noted that Young is “worthy of his appointment”, however she did state that she felt it was a “mistake for him to belittle sexist comments by labelling them ‘politically incorrect’, a term frequently used to dismiss unacceptable comments about, and behaviour towards, women and minorities”.