Defra’s Brexit chief to head Food Standards Agency.

Emily Miles to head up watchdog from September after acting as environment ministry’s director general for EU Exit delivery 

Photo: FSA

By Richard Johnstone

15 Jul 2019

The Food Standards Agency has announced that Emily Miles, currently a top Brexit official from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,  is to be its new chief executive.

 Miles is  Defra’s acting director general for the department’s EU exit delivery group, having taken up the post following Tamara Finkelstein's promotion to Defra perm sec in March .

Defra is one of the departments most impacted by the policy changes of leaving the EU, and Miles, who joined Defra in November 2015 as the group director of strategy, has been coordinating work on the domestic implications of Brexit for Defra since the 2016 referendum.

Announcing Miles appointment, FSA chair Heather Hancock said Miles brings an impressive track record in developing strategy and excellent outcomes across government, which in a nearly 20-year career has also included working in the Cabinet Office and the Home Office. Miles' roles have included director of policing at the Home Office; the programme director for the programme to clear the UK’s historic asylum caseload backlog in the UK Border Agency; and the programme director for the close of the National Policing Improvement Agency and the establishment of the College of Policing. She was also a policy advisor on home affairs to then-prime minister Tony Blair between 2002 and 2005.

“She joins us at a pivotal moment in food regulation, as we implement our new regulatory regime outside the EU, manage the short-term impacts of leaving the EU, and drive forward our modernisation plans,” said Hancock. “I am in no doubt that Emily’s strategic vision and leadership will be highly effective at FSA and I very much look forward to working with her.”

Miles said she was looking forward to leading the department as it faces the challenges of Brexit.

“As an organisation that attracts high levels of public trust, I am honoured to take up the role of FSA chief executive and to play my part in driving forward its mission of protecting consumers by ensuring food is safe and what it says it is,” she added.

“I look forward to getting to know the talented team there as well as working with colleagues across national and local government, and in industry to deliver safe food for consumers as we face new challenges and new opportunities.”

FSA director of regulatory and legal strategy Rod Ainsworth will continue as interim chief executive until Miles joins the FSA in September.

Miles is the latest in a number of top civi servants to move from Brexit-related roles in departments. Former Defra perm sec Claire Moriarty replaced DExEU permanent secretary Philip Rycroft in April, andother departures since the UK agreed an extension to the Article 50 process to October 31 include Tom Shinner, the civil servant who has led preparations for a no deal Brexit at the DExEU, and Karen Wheeler, the director general for border coordination at HM Revenue and Customs, who has worked on ensuring there is no hard border on the island of Ireland. Justin Russell also left his role overseeing no-deal Brexit preparations at the Ministry of Justice to become chief probation inspector.

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