Leicester alumnus appointed High Sheriff of East Sussex

Michael Foster, who is a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of East Sussex, was this year appointed the County’s High Sheriff.

The University of Leicester graduate, who holds a LLM from the University, was previously the Labour Member of Parliament for Hastings and Rye and the Equalities Minister at the time of the passing of the Equality Act 2010.

The ancient office which dates back over 1000 years was a Royal appointment to collect revenue and enforce the law on behalf of the Crown. By the time of Henry V111 the reputation of High Sheriffs had become somewhat tarnished, if not by the Sheriff of Nottingham then by men like him, and many of their powers were assigned to statutory bodies and others to the Lord Lieutenants who were appointed as personal representatives of the Sovereign.

However the appointment of High Sheriffs continued and they are still chosen by the “pricking” of their names on parchment by the Monarch at a meeting of the Privy Council every February. The modern office is an independent, non-political role whose duties include attendance at Royal visits in the County, support for Her Majesty’s High Court Judges and liaison with the Police, probation and prison services. They remain the Returning Officers for County constituencies but their main role is ceremonial and engagement with voluntary sector organisations.

“It is unusual for a former politician to be voted to such an office,” said Michael Foster. “At one time even lawyers could not accept the role so as a former politician and lawyer I think they are really “widening the gene pool.”