Under-fire Environment Agency chairman opts to spend more time in the sun
Sir Philip Dilley has resigned as chairman of the Environment Agency, blaming the press for his downfall and insisting that he only told one untruth.
When parts of the north of England became submerged under floodwater after Christmas, the former Ove Arup boss proved slow to respond. The press was informed that he was “at home” keeping an eye on things. It later emerged that he was in fact at his holiday home in Barbados. Dilley said it was reasonable for him to spend time there, since it is where his wife is from. It was subsequently reported that his wife is actually from Jamaica.
Dilley said that when the severity of the situation emerged, he managed to get a flight home a few days later.
Sir Philip Dilley took up post as Environment Agency chairman in September 2014. He was paid £100,000 a year for a three-day week.
His resignation statement was notable for its lack of contrition any admission of culpability for his absenteeism and subsequent attempts to deceive the public. He was not prepared to relinquish his lifestyle for the job, he said.
“My reason for resigning is that the expectations of the role have expanded to require the chairman to be available at short notice throughout the year, irrespective of routine arrangements for deputy and executive cover,” he said. “In my view this is inappropriate in a part-time non-executive position, and this is something I am unable to deliver.”
He said that press attention on his failings was (somehow) exacerbating the flood damage. “The media scrutiny focused on me is diverting attention from the real issue of helping those whose homes and businesses have flooded, as well as the important matter of delivering a long-term flood defence strategy. This same media attention has also affected and intruded on my immediate family, which I find unacceptable.”
He also sought to defend his honesty. “I want to be clear that I have not made any untrue or misleading statements, apart from approving the statement about my location over Christmas that in hindsight could have been clearer.”
Deputy chairman Emma Howard Boyd takes over as acting chairman until a permanent replacement is found.
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This article was published on 11 Jan 2016 (last updated on 11 Jan 2016).