Defra's chief vet quits

Defra's chief veterinary officer Debby Reynolds is taking early retirement, it was announced today.Dr Reynolds, who led the government's efforts to contain this year's foot-and-mouth outbreak, took over in March 2004.

Defra's chief veterinary officer Debby Reynolds is taking early retirement, it was announced today.

Dr Reynolds, who led the government's efforts to contain this year's foot-and-mouth outbreak, took over in March 2004.

In her career with Defra, she was responsible for tackling avian or bird flu, foot-and-mouth and more recently the country's first cases of bluetongue disease.

While Dr Reynolds was well regarded for her efforts to secure eradication of foot-and-mouth disease, which escaped from the government-funded laboratories at Pirbright in August. And the livestock industry was impressed by her speedy success to lift movements restrictions from August 25 only for further cases of foot-and-mouth disease to emerge slightly outside the original zone in less than a week.


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The devastating set-back of the confirmation of further outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in September and Defra's track record of poor control and inspection of the facilities at Pirbright was certainly not the department's or the chief vet's finest hour.

Dr Reynolds, who studied at the University of Bristol's veterinary school between 1970 and 1975, later went to join the ministry of agriculture. She became veterinary director of the Food Standards Agency in 2001.

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She said: “The events of this summer were the true test of our contingency planning and the partnership work we have established; we have built a disease control strategy which is the best in the world.

“I have now decided that the time is right for me to move on. I will of course retain links with the Department. I have no doubt that the work we have carried out will continue and I wish my successor all the very best."

Defra secretary of State, Hilary Benn said: “I am extremely grateful for Debby's advice and hard work on behalf of the department both during the recent animal disease outbreaks and over the years. I wish her all the very best in her future career.”

Deputy chief veterinary officer Fred Landeg will take over the chief veterinary officer role in the interim.

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