Head of legal at the Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR) Sally Barrett-Williams has unexpectedly quit her post after less than a year.
Barrett-Williams had plans for ORR involving the development and recruitment of the legal team. She explained in an interview with The Lawyer (18 June) that she also wanted to expand the organisation's panel of law firms from just Slaughter and May and Richard Whish at King's College of Law to having a "few firms". During that interview, she described her role as "intensely satisfying" and "very exciting". Barrett-Williams joined ORR from Ofgem, where she worked for just eight months. Before that she worked in-house for National Power. A spokesman for ORR said: "We can confirm the resignation of Sally Barrett-Williams. She is taking annual leave owed to her and will not be returning to ORR." The Lawyer understands that Elaine Harris, who was recruited by Barrett-Williams from her job as head of legal at the Passenger Transport Executive, will still be joining ORR as arranged on16 July and will be helping to run ORR until a permanent replacement for Barrett-Williams is found. Barrett-Williams was unavailable to comment. Her departure leaves the office with a legal team of five. The news of Barrett-Williams' resignation comes as the Government unveiled a possible merger of the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) with the Rail Regulator's Office. The SRA is a Government agency set up to regulate train operators. Critics of this approach have raised concerns that such a move could place the financial independence of ORR at risk.