Skip to main content

Meet the Committee Members

The Essex Data Ethics Committee (DEC) has a key role in ensuring transparency around the access, use and sharing of data by Essex public services. The Committee will provide independent advice to the Essex Centre for Data Analytics (ecda) on the use of data for public benefit.

DEC members have been selected because of their personal and professional experience and will each bring their individual perspective to all issues considered by the group.

Together the Committee will assess the ethics of specific ecda projects under a duty to provide meaningful pragmatic advice that is in the public interest, translating key public law and human rights principles into practical considerations and guidance that can be addressed by ecda. You can read the full Terms of Reference here.

Twelve members have been appointed to the DEC for a period of three years. Recruitment remains open to fulfil four vacancies, interest can be registered by emailing

Andrew Knott

Andrew Knott is a Managing Director in the NHS and has specialised in public and private sector organisational transformations. 

Prior to a career in the NHS, Andrew worked in professional services at PwC, Deloitte and Arthur Andersen and originally qualified as a marketer and market researcher.

“As more decision-making is driven by large data sets in ways that would be unimaginable 10 or 20 years, I am particularly interested in how any biases in collecting and interpreting data can influence decision making. This why I believe that the work being done by the Essex Data Ethics Committee to identify, scrutinise and understand any such biases can make a positive difference to public policy making.”

Helen Hitching

Helen Hitching is an experienced data and information policy and governance leader and has been working in the data field for the past three and a half years within the Civil Service.

She has supported organisation’s development of their data strategy, investment roadmap and led the delivery of a number of data capabilities. This has included designing the department's Operating Model and building a team with the appropriate skills and knowledge to influence the culture and education of the organisation through the data life cycle.

More recently Helen has led the redesign and implementation of the Data Governance Framework to sit within wider corporate governance, with particular focus on understanding the enterprise information risk, controls and mitigations.

Helen is excited about being able to contribute to the work of the DEC and seeing the benefits it can bring to the residents of Essex.

Iain Birtwell

Iain Birtwell is a resident of Essex, with more than 40 years working in the county as a teacher, head teacher, and an Essex School Advisor. Iain is a Trustee at a Multi Academy Trust in South Essex.

I have always prided myself in making a difference wherever I have worked, and I feel that as a member of the DEC I will be able to contribute to the provision of quality services in Essex.

Karthik Durgaprasad

Karthik, an Inward Investment Manager at Essex County Council, promotes Essex as a great place to live, invest and grow your business. He brings 20 years of economic development, manufacturing, innovation management, smart city, clean tech and business engagement experience to the DEC.

“Data will play a key role in shaping our society and policies in the future. Working with the DEC will be a great opportunity to collaborate with other volunteers to understand how data will be treated ethically, pilot projects and innovate within policy development.

“I work and live in Essex and through my involvement in the Essex Data Ethics Committee I would like to shape inclusive citizen centric data projects that create better opportunities and prosperity for all."

Martine Clark - DEC Chair

Martine Clark is an experienced data policy and strategy leader. She started her civil service career as an economic advisor, providing analytics and advice to policy makers on tax credits, child benefit, and then international climate change.

In more recent years, she’s chosen data leadership roles which cut across technical delivery, policy-making, and high-level strategy, with a real passion for enabling operational business leads, technical decision-makers and policy specialists to work together to deliver better outcomes for the public. She is currently the head of government sector for Methods Analytics, a consultancy committed to using data to help public and private sector clients solve complex problems and do good things.

“I am delighted to be able to contribute to the vital work of the DEC. Ensuring data ethics is embedded in every stage of the data management lifecycle should ensure that ecda’s collaboration can drive forward innovation which delivers real value to citizens of Essex. And that this is done in a way that maintains, and improves, the public’s trust in how we handle often extremely sensitive personal data.”

Martyn Knappett

Retiring from his role as Deputy Chief Executive of Tendring District Council in 2019, Martyn holds 39 years of experience serving Essex citizens through various roles within an Essex Local Authority.

“I hope to bring to the DEC an awareness of the practical realities of delivering public services against a backdrop of increasing demand and need, reduced funds and the opportunities of working together and sharing what we do have – including data. I am experienced in striking the balance between the drive to “get it done” and the importance of getting it done “in the right way”.

“I hope the DEC will be a valuable support to the innovative and important work of the Essex Centre for Data Analytics by constructively challenging the projects to ensure that the right balance is struck between the sharing and use of data to deliver better targeted and efficient services to benefit the community, and the privacy and rights of the individuals and groups involved.”

Sacha Babuta

Alexander (Sacha) Babuta is AI Futures Lead at the UK Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation. His work focuses on the policy and ethical implications of future developments in AI technology. 

He was previously Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), where he led a programme of research focussing on digital policing and intelligence. He takes a particular interest in the behavioural science aspects of emerging technologies and is currently studying for a Doctorate in Criminology at the University of West London, focussing on data-driven violence risk assessment.

"The Committee can offer invaluable objective guidance to ensure that future data analytics projects achieve their intended outcomes, while paying due regard to issues such as human rights, proportionality and privacy. In doing so, the Committee can support ecda in maximising the potential benefits of data-driven technologies, to promote the safety and wellbeing of citizens across the county."

Dr Sally Messenger

With a focus on technical and vocational education, Dr Sally Messenger has taught in universities, further and adult education and at national level in education management at the Institute for Leadership & Management and City & Guilds.

“I have lived in Frinton-on-Sea for 24 years. I am not a specialist in data management and ethics but I am affected by it, like everyone else, thus I hope to be able to keep a clear focus on the intended outcomes of the Committee’s discussions - the difference we can make.

“My career has often required me to work across and in partnership with organisations with common and unique agendas thus I understand the challenges and benefits this can result in. Bringing together Essex County Council, Essex Police and the University of Essex to combine expertise, to drive the county forward, is a major initiative which has the potential to make a real impact on life in Essex.”

Teresa Ashforth

Teresa is a data specialist working with over 12 years’ experience within policing and the Home Office. She is passionate about supporting policing in maximising the operational benefits of data legitimately and ethically to protect the most vulnerable in society.

“I am looking forward to working with colleagues to support the partnership in delivering an ethical framework within which policing can make the public safer. It is really encouraging to see the level of interest and positive engagement and I will do my best to add value to the debate.”

Yani Tyskerud

Yani Tyskerud, a Programme Director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), has a background in international development and research working with governments, charities, and research organisations worldwide.

Her special area of interest is developing data sharing processes to support evidence-led policy development through the application of insights from administrative data. She also has experience of working directly with people who participate in research and ensuring that research processes are transparent and fair. Yani works closely with the IFS’ research ethics and data protection leads to ensure ethical and legal compliance and best practice across a range of research projects.

“As part of the DEC, I am looking forward to working with different institutions and members of the Committee and contributing to discussions about how the increased use of data can answer policy questions that are important to people in Essex.”