A Tribute to Lynn Faulds Wood – consumer champion
Jill Paterson, consumer safety solicitor, reflects on the work of Lynn Faulds Wood who passed away on 24th April 2020.
Posted on 11 May 2020
Lynn Faulds Wood was a formidable consumer rights champion, cancer awareness campaigner, journalist and TV presenter, and will be sorely missed.
Following an early career involving consumer campaigning in the print press and on morning TV, Lynn was instrumental in the success of Watchdog which she presented with her husband, John Stapleton, until 1993. The programme often investigated faulty products, from ovens and tumble dryers to pen tops and baby cots, and highlighting such issues resulted in changes to many standards and laws. Lynn was rightly proud of the changes that her work directly brought about.
I first met Lynn at Waterloo station in February 2015. She had been asked to chair a government review into product recall and was consulting various different stakeholders. She knew about the work I had done for families affected by fires involving white goods and that I felt that the product recall system in the UK was failing consumers. I couldn’t believe my luck that one of my heroines wanted to speak to me about consumer safety. I had watched Watchdog avidly growing up and had always wanted to make a real difference like Lynn.
Lynn was a good listener. And she thought big. Her first question was “If I had a magic wand, what would you want to see changed?” I understand that she took that approach with everyone she met to discuss the review. But she was pragmatic too. She understood the financial constraints that public bodies were under and so she thought outside the box to come up with ideas that would really work and that could be funded in novel ways. As a result, her recommendations were not only sensible but achievable.
Some of Lynn’s suggestions have been actioned. Her central recommendation was the creation of an official product safety agency, which has been established in the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS). There has been some training for Trading Standards Officers through the OPSS and the creation of a Code of Practice providing guidance for businesses on what a good product recall looks like.
Funding for Trading Standards, however, has been cut rather than improved. We don’t have an independent recall website for consumers, and we don’t have a national injury database. These are all things that Lynn was passionate about fighting for to improve safety for consumers.
There have been a number of major recall issues since Lynn put together her report and we often discussed them.
There are a number of people and organisations whom Lynn inspired and we must all keep fighting for change in her memory.