Harwood holds the fort

John Harwood has been appointed interim chief executive of the Food Standards Agency. He takes up the post following Agency chief executive Jon Bell's departure at the end of March, when his contract finishes.

Harwood has extensive experience of leading and managing major public bodies, having successfully established and led the Learning and Skills Council for England, the UK's largest spending non-departmental public body, as well as being chief executive of two highly regarded local authorities - the London Borough of Lewisham and Oxfordshire County Council.

More recently, he has been the interim chief executive of Cumbria County Council. John Harwood also has non-executive experience through his current roles as the chair of a leading international education management company and consultancy, and as chair of an Oxfordshire-based environmental charity. He is a Senior Associate Fellow of Warwick Business School and a member of the Court of Oxford Brookes University.

Chair of the Agency Deirdre Hutton said that John's wide experience of leading public sector organisations will be invaluable in helping the FSA build on what it has achieved in its first six years.

Asked about joining the Agency, John Harwood said: "The FSA performs a vital service for everyone in the UK, so it is an exciting challenge to be invited to join such an important team.

"I look forward very much to working with my new colleagues and drawing on my experience and skills to help the Agency in the months ahead."

He lives in Oxfordshire where he is a keen vegetable gardener and also keeps chickens. His other pastimes include cooking and walking.

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