Comic Relief names Diageo general counsel as new chair

Former Linklaters partner Tom Shropshire to step in on interim basis following Eric Salama’s early retirement

Tom Shropshire Image courtesy of Comic Relief

Diageo’s general counsel has been named as the new chair of prominent British charity Comic Relief.

Tom Shropshire has been a trustee of the charity for the past five years and will succeed Eric Salama, chair of market research company Kantar Public. Salama has acted as chair since 2020 but has decided to stand down ahead of his previously announced retirement date of March 2024. 

Comic Relief said Salama’s decision “relates to a stance being taken on a public issue without any prior consultation with the board or Eric as chair”. It added that Shropshire will act as chair on an interim basis until a permanent chair is appointed “in due course”.

Shropshire spent more than 20 years at Linklaters and was global head of its US practice before joining Diageo in 2021. He had been regarded as a front runner to replace Charlie Jacobs as Linklaters’ next senior partner, a role secured by Aedamar Comiskey, making her the first woman to hold the post in the firm’s almost 200-year history.

Comic Relief said he had become a “recognised leader in governance and sustainability, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion”.

Shropshire commented: “I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to lead the board and work even more closely with the team at Comic Relief to deliver the charity’s ambitions, and most importantly to have impact and make a real difference on the ground.

“On behalf of the board and team at Comic Relief, I would like to thank Eric for all he has done for the charity, including steering Comic Relief through the Covid-19 pandemic and helping to shape our current strategy. We wish Eric well in the future and look forward to having his continued support in the important work being done by Comic Relief and its partners.”

Comic Relief has raised more than £1.5bn since it was founded in 1985 by comedy scriptwriter Richard Curtis and comedian Lenny Henry in response to the famine in Ethiopia. Its central appeal is Red Nose Day, an annual telethon intended to raise funds to fight poverty in the UK and globally. 

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