7 January 2000

Packer leaves ministry

ONE of the most influential figures at the Ministry of Agriculture, Richard Packer, has resigned his post after seven years service.

The most senior civil servant at MAFF will quit his job as permanent secretary in February after working under six farm ministers.

The departure of Mr Packer, who was knighted in the New Years honours list, fuelled speculation that he will be criticised in the final BSE inquiry report. But announcing the news, farm minister Nick Brown praised Mr Packers "remarkable contribution" to public service.

"He has led the department through an exceptionally difficult period and done so with steadfast resolve and rigorous professionalism," he added.

Mr Packer described his years as being "the most turbulent period in MAFFs history" but said it was time to move on. &#42