DEFRA appoints interim RPA chief

Richard Judge has been appointed as interim chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency.

Dr Judge, who is currently chief executive of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science will take up the role from 2 August.

A chartered engineer, Dr Judge has also worked in the nuclear, rail and environmental industries.

He is expected to remain in the post for three to six months, until a permanent replacement for outgoing chief Tony Cooper is found.

Mr Cooper resigned from the agency earlier this month “for personal reasons”.

His announced departure came just ahead of the publication of a government-commissioned agency review which criticised the RPA’s senior management and its performance in delivering payments.

Responding to the review, farm minister Jim Paice vowed to reverse the failures of the agency and said he would take full responsibility for revitalising its performance.

He said he would chair an “oversight board” to ensure the agency was making progress, and pledged to appoint a permanent chief executive for the RPA “from the widest available pool” in the coming months.

“In the meantime, the organisation needs strong leadership as we start to implement the priorities I set out in our response to the RPA review,” he said.

“I welcome Richard Judge to the job and I’m looking forward to sitting down with him and the rest of RPA’s oversight board in early August for my first meeting as chairman of the board.”

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