Board chief confirms she is to leave role following peerage

Ex-UJIA chief Michael Wegier appointed Interim Chief Executive in her place.


Gillian Merron is to step down as Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies Chief Executive after being appointed as a Life Peer in the  House of Lords.

Former United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA)  chief executive Michael Wegier has been appointed Interim Chief Executive in her place.

Former Labour MP Ms Merron has been the Board’s chief executive since 2014 and will leave the top communal post on April 2nd.

Confirming her departure on Monday she said: “I have had the great honour of serving our community for six and a half years and whilst I am sad, I am also proud to leave the Board of Deputies in better shape, making greater impact and with more potential than ever before.

“I have enjoyed working together with so many talented and committed colleagues – presidents, lay leaders, staff and volunteers. I will look back with great pride, warmth and fondness on everything we have achieved together.

“Bearing in mind that the Board of Deputies is a non-party political organisation, my appointment as a Labour Peer presents a conflict. Therefore I will not be undertaking political work in my remaining time here.

“I look forward to Michael steering the Board of Deputies to greater heights, bringing different skills and ambition to this next chapter for the organisation. 

“Our community is quite remarkable and I wish all strength, success and happiness for all of my friends and colleagues who serve our community in so many ways. Thank you for giving me the honour of working with you.

“The Board of Deputies plays an essential role in steering the relationship between British Jews, wider British government and society as well as the global Jewish community.

Mr Wegier said: “It is a privilege to have been appointed as the Interim Chief Executive and I look forward to working closely with the Officers, the Professional Team and the Deputies as we all navigate the next phase of our community’s development.”

Ms Merron’s appointment as a life peer was confirmed last month after she was nominated by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said of her departure from the communal organisation: “I would like to thank Gillian for her wonderful work as Chief Executive since she took over in 2014. The organisation has been transformed during that period and she can be credited with so many of our achievements. Of course, we are very sorry to see her go but there can be no better reason than her elevation to the peerage.

“I’m delighted to welcome Michael Wegier as her interim successor. He has a great track record over many years as Chief Executive of UJIA and he brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the Board of Deputies.”

Following the announcement by Downing Street about her appointment last month  Ms Merron said: "I have made it my life’s work to serve the country in whatever ways I can, whether in the trade unions, as MP for Lincoln, as a government minister and now alongside the outstanding lay and professional team at the Board of Deputies. I am very much looking forward to taking my place in the House of Lords.”

She was previously  MP for Lincoln between 1997 and 2010 and a government minister from 2006 to 2010 when she was a Minister in the Health, International Development and Transport departments as well as the Cabinet and Foreign and Commonwealth Offices.

Ms Merron had been Chief Executive throughout the Labour’s antisemitism crisis while the party was led by Jeremy Corbyn.  Despite the deep conflict between the party and the communal leaders, she remained a Labour member throughout.

She did speak out on occasions at the height of the crisis and at one stage appeared on BBC News to criticise Baroness Chakrabarti’s appointment to the Lords after her “whitewash” report into antisemitism in Labour.

Former Labour Party MPs Dame Louise Ellman and Luciana Berger quit the party citing antisemitism as a reason – meaning they could not be nominated themselves by Sir Keir for peerages.





Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive