FORMER DEPUTY leader of the Labour party Tom Watson has been appointed chair of industry umbrella organisation UK Music, taking over from Andy Heath who will continue as chairman of Beggars Music.
Sheffield-born Watson spent nearly two decades as a Labour MP and was shadow secretary of state for digital, culture and media, under Jeremy Corbyn, from 2016 until stepping down before last December’s election.
Watson is the latest former Labour MP or employee to take a senior role at UK Music. Former shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport Michael Dugher replaced Jo Dipple as CEO in 2017. Dipple’s roles with Labour included being a special advisor for prime minister Gordon Brown from 2007 to 2008.
Some industry insiders are surprised at Watson’s appointment, in view of his high-profile role in supporting claims of an alleged VIP paedophile ring involving establishment figures. The central figure behind the allegations eventually proved to be a fantasist and is now serving a 16-year prison sentence.
UK Music acting CEO Tom Kiehl will remain in the role during the recruitment process for a new CEO.