Michael Gove under pressure after top Defra board member 'resigns over time demands'

Posted On: 
21st November 2017

A top board member at the Environment department has resigned after Michael Gove reportedly asked him to devote three days a week to the role.

Steve Holliday is stepping down as non-executive director at Defra
Credit: 
PA

Sky News reports that former National Grid chief executive Steve Holliday stepped down over the time demands, which were far higher than the two days a month he originally signed up for. 

Whitehall sources said two more non-executive directors, Catherine Doran and Paul Rew, would also be stepping down after six years service each on the department’s board.

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They were among the first of dozens of businesspeople recruited by Francis Maude during the coalition government to try to improve Whitehall’s governance and efficiency.

Mr Gove has come under scrutiny before over his departmental appointments.

When he was Education Secretary questions were raised over the hiring of big money Tory donor Lord Nash as a minister in the Department for Education (DfE).

Another Tory donor, Sir Theodore Agnew was appointed to the boards of both the DfE and subsequently the Ministry of Justice when Mr Gove took over as Justice Secretary.

Sir Theodore has since taken on a role as Education minister following Lord Nash’s retirement earlier this year.

A Defra spokesperson said: "Defra is currently running an open competition for new non-executive board members.

"The advert went live on 9 September and ran until 19 October. Applications are currently being considered. The recruitment process is being run in accordance with Cabinet Office guidelines."