Head of Shelter quits to helm consumer watchdog

This article is more than 11 years old
Adam Sampson to be first chief ombudsman of the Office for Legal Complaints
Adam Sampson
Adam Sampson, who will take up his new post on 1 July. Photograph: David Levene
Adam Sampson, who will take up his new post on 1 July. Photograph: David Levene
Mon 2 Mar 2009 12.26 EST

The chief executive of homelessness charity Shelter, Adam Sampson, is quitting to head a new consumer watchdog.

Sampson, who has led the charity for the last six years, is to be the first chief ombudsman of the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC), which will monitor legal services.

He began his career as a probation officer and later became deputy director of the Prison Reform Trust. In 1994 he joined the Home Office as assistant prisons ombudsman before returning to the voluntary sector as chief executive of drugs charity RAPt.

He took the helm of Shelter just months after plans to merge with rival organisation Crisis collapsed, and put the charity firmly at the heart of the debate on homelessness and housing policy.

Sampson's departure from Shelter comes as the charity gets to grips with the effects of the recession. Shelter has seen a significant drop in the level of donations over the last 18 months, especially from corporate supporters, and has been forced to make job cuts, while also handling a surge in demand for its services.

Sampson will leave Shelter to start work with the OLC in three months, formally taking up the post as chief ombudsman on 1 July 2009.

Shelter's acting chair, Hugh Norton, said: "Over the six-year period in which he has been its CEO, Adam has given Shelter strong executive leadership. The board is grateful to him for taking Shelter through a period of considerable change and challenge, and for the way he has led its transformation in response to the fast-moving pressures of today's world. 

"Most importantly, he has helped to move housing issues from the periphery to the centre of the political landscape. We wish him all success as he pursues his further career, and develops the new organisation he is taking on as its first chief executive.

"The board will be making an early appointment of an interim CEO to take Adam's place pending the appointment of a permanent replacement.  Meanwhile Adam will, until his departure, continue to lead Shelter's vigorous participation in the current national debate on housing, and its services of advice and assistance to the homeless and poorly housed."

Sampson added: "The six or more years I have spent in Shelter have been some of the most satisfying – and challenging – of my life. Shelter has been, and always will be, very important to me and I always knew that it would take a special job to tempt me away.

"The prospect of being in a position to set up and lead a new organisation which will help to protect consumer interests and drive improvements through our legal services is too exciting to turn down. I look forward with keen anticipation to the challenge of my new job and, at the same time, look back with a deep sense of satisfaction with the achievements I have been lucky enough to be a part of at Shelter."

Elizabeth France, chair of the OLC, said: "The chief ombudsman will play a critical role in building the new dispute resolution system that consumers of legal services have long required. Adam brings a strong background in organisational development combined with direct and relevant experience of the broad range of issues faced by some of the most vulnerable consumers of legal services.

"His previous experience at an ombudsman scheme makes him uniquely well-placed to lead the establishment of the OLC. I am delighted, on behalf of the OLC, to welcome him to the role."