Environment Agency chairman Sir Philip Dilley has resigned in the wake of the media outcry over his time in the Caribbean during recent UK floods.
Dilley – who was with family in Barbados over Christmas – last week admitted he could have come back “one or two days earlier” as the scale of damage caused by storms here became clear.
But when pressed by MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, he refused to rule out a trip abroad again next winter.
He said today: “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. In my view this is inappropriate in a part-time non-executive position, and this is something I am unable to deliver.
“Furthermore 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.”
Environment secretary Elizabeth Truss thanked Dilley for his work.
“He has ably led the Environment Agency through some challenging times and leaves it a much better organisation, as shown in its excellent response to the recent flooding which saw staff working around the clock to protect and help thousands of people across the country,” she said.
Deputy chair Emma Howard Boyd has become acting chair with immediate effect.