The first openly gay MP, former cabinet minister, Chris Smith has been appointed the new chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority.

Chris Smith who sits in the House of Lords as Lord Smith of Finsbury will take over from the current chairman, Lord Borrie QC, on the 1st July 2007.

Lord Smith was Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and a member of the Cabinet between 1997-2001. Since leaving Parliament in 2005, he has held a wide variety of senior appointments in public service and in the arts, culture, media and other creative industries. He recently authored a column for The Pink News, the print version of PinkNews.co.uk.

Winston Fletcher, who chaired the board appointing Lord Smith said: “The board greatly welcomes Chris Smith’s acceptance of our invitation to become Chairman of the ASA. We are absolutely delighted to have someone of the stature and experience of Chris Smith to follow Gordon Borrie. We have no doubt that he will make as outstanding a contribution to the future of the ASA as Gordon Borrie himself has made during his six years in office.”

Commenting on his appointment to the body regulating advertising across a variety of medias, Lord Smith said: “The ASA is an example of self-regulation working at its best. It has a distinguished record of keeping the work of advertisers and advertising – one of our most important creative industries – on the right road. I look forward to taking forward its important work.”

Lord Borrie, who was appointed January 2001, said: “I am delighted to hear that Chris Smith is to be the new Chairman of the ASA. He has had a distinguished career in public service and the arts. He is fair minded and effective”.

Lord Smith’s successor as Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell is said to be delighted with the appointment.