LORD Woolf has defended his decision to accept an invitation to become president of a new witnesses group following revelations that it has links with a private company.
The Master of Rolls told The Lawyer he only agreed to become president of the Expert Witness Institute, chaired by the retired High Court judge Sir Michael Davies, after assurances it was not commercial.
His decision to accept the invitation is understood to have infuriated the two existing expert witnesses groups – the Academy of Experts, and the lesser known Society of Expert Witnesses.
Criticism centres on the fact that the Institute's company secretary designate, Catherine Bond, is also managing director of training company Bond Solon, which stands to gain financially from the Institute thanks to an agreement to provide some of its training.
Woolf told The Lawyer: “I was approached by Sir Michael Davies to be president of the Institute. I only agreed to be president after I had received assurances in writing that the Institute would be independent of any commercial body.
“I have always supported the Academy of Experts and still do so. I was, however, satisfied that there was room for a second body.”
Davies said: “If anyone can find us a more suitable person for doing the job of company secretary than Catherine Bond I would be delighted to consider them. The Institute will be an independent, non-profit making company and no director of Bond Solon will be a member of the Institute's committee.
“Accept it from me that no policy of the Institute will be affected by the interests of Bond Solon.
“If anyone thinks that Bond Solon has pulled a fast one on me, they haven't spent much time in my court.”