Defra has announced that Christine Middlemiss has been appointed as the UK’s next Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), replacing Nigel Gibbens.
Mr Gibbens is stepping down at the end of February 2018 following 10 years in the post. Dr Middlemiss, who has held the role of CVO in New South Wales, Australia, since August 2016, will commence her new role in March.
Dr Middlemiss, who has led major improvements to biosecurity across the farming sectors during her stint in Australia, comes from a farming family in the south of Scotland, with a background in beef cattle and sheep.
She will be returning to Defra where she worked as Deputy Director for Animal Traceability and Public Health in 2016. An experienced veterinarian, she worked for a number of years in private practice in Scotland and the north of England, prior to joining the Animal Health agency (now part of the Animal and Plant Health Agency) in 2008 as a Divisional Veterinary Manager in Scotland.
Dr Middlemiss said: “I am delighted to have been appointed and it will be a privilege to lead my veterinary colleagues to support our farming and food industry in this hugely important role.
“The UK Government has made no secret it wants to cement its place as a world-leader on animal welfare as they leave the European Union, and I’m delighted to have an opportunity to play a part in that.”
Animal Welfare Minister Lord Gardiner said Dr Middlemiss brings ‘a wealth of experience and enthusiasm’ to the role.
“This Government is embarking on an ambitious programme of animal welfare reform, including plans to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty to five years in prison and introducing mandatory CCTV in all abattoirs. Christine will be invaluable in helping us in achieving world leading standards,” he said.
He thanked Mr Gibbens for his ‘outstanding contribution as CVO over the past ten years’. “Leaving the department at the end of February, he is hugely respected across the veterinary community and beyond – leading on responses to disease outbreaks including avian influenza and advising government on issues from antimicrobial resistance to animal welfare,” Lord Gardiner said.
Mr Gibbens, said: “I would like to congratulate Christine on her success against a strong field of candidates and I am certain she will be a great addition to the department.”