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Role details

Animal and Plant Health Agency Lead Non-Executive Director and Chair of the APHA Steering Board

Application deadline 24 November 2023


Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)
Sponsor department
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Environment, Agriculture & Fishing
Audit and Risk, Business, Change Management, Commercial, Communication, Media, Marketing, Human Resources, Legal, Judicial, Major Projects, Procurement, Regulation, Transformation
Number of vacancies
Time commitment
30 day(s) per annum
£600 per day
Length of term
3 years. (With an option to extend the period for a further three years if agreed. Appointments beyond six years will only be considered exceptionally)
Application deadline
Midday on 24 November 2023

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Timeline for this appointment

  1. Opening date

    16 October 2023

  2. Application deadline

    Midday on 24 November 2023

  3. Sifting date

    14 December 2023

  4. Interviews expected to end on

    11 January 2024

Timeline dates are only an estimate and can change

About the role


About the Animal and Plant Health Agency

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) is tasked with a simple but powerful mission…

“Safeguarding animal and plant health for the benefit of people, the environment and the economy.”

The Agency’s creation saw the former Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency merge with Plant Health, GM Inspectorate, the Plant Varieties and Seeds Office and then in 2018 the Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate also joined APHA. This powerful join up of science with field, technical, border and trade expertise ensure the Agency is in a position to deliver the bold ambitions of the UK government and devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales.

Since then, we have carried out that mission with pride and professionalism, establishing world leading services delivered by world-class people. But the world today is very different from the one back then. We have left the EU, emerged from a global pandemic, and seen how our food security and affordability can be affected overnight by events in faraway parts of the world. This highlights that a potential threat could exist around any corner and arrive at any time and without warning. That uncertainty has reinvigorated the importance of our role in protecting the UK. It has also reinforced that our role in protecting UK animal and plant life also places us on the frontline of safeguarding human life, all the while creating the conditions for UK trade to grow and thrive.

The Agency is growing fast - our role in international trade continues to be enhanced as a result of the UK leaving the EU. Policy in this area is extremely complex and requires expert advice and understanding. We currently have just over 3000 employees spread across more than 60 sites in Great Britain. We have secured significant new investment in our main scientific campus at Weybridge in Surrey, which will equip our scientists with the facilities they need to place the UK at the forefront of global scientific endeavour in this arena. We are proud of the national and international reputation which APHA has for the quality of our science and our services to our customers.

In May 2023, the Agency launched a new strategy which sets out how we aim to shape the future of APHA. The strategy is focused around our five pillars of innovate, protect, promote, people and place.  Our new strategy will not solve all our challenges, but it will give us clear ambitions and outcomes to aim for. It showcases how critical we are to UK biosecurity, food security and mitigating some of the biggest challenges we and society face. It will take working together to bring it to life and unleash our potential, so this is an exciting time to join the Agency.

Introduction from the Secretary of State

A statement from Lord Benyon, Minister for Biosecurity, Marine and Rural Affairs

“The Animal and Plant Health Agency is a vital part of the DEFRA family. Its work keeps the country safe from disease, protects taxpayers from the burdens of dealing with outbreaks and is a vital link to ministers in policy creation and implementation. Ministers are looking for a leader for APHA who understands the challenges for the organisation now and in the years to come. We are also looking or someone who will work well with ministers on a day to day basis”.

Role description

The vacancy is for APHA’s Lead Non-Executive Director, who will Chair the APHA Steering Board. They will be well organised and have proven business experience at either Chief Executive or Managing Director level. Alongside externally recognised credentials, we are particularly interested in individuals who are able to offer skills and experience in delivery of cultural change, particularly the ability to drive innovation. 

The Chair is responsible for ensuring that effective arrangements are in place to provide assurance on risk management, governance and internal control. They will make sure that the Steering Board are provided advice on strategy and the deliverability of policies and key objectives (agreed annually) achieving value for money, scrutinise performance and provide support and challenge in the delivery of APHA responsibilities and the exercise of the Chief Executives responsibilities as Accounting Officer. 

The Chair will make sure that the Steering Board takes into account guidance issued by the Department (Defra) and will receive and review regular financial information concerning the management of the APHA; and provides positive assurance to the department that appropriate action has been taken when concerns are raised.

The structure of the APHA Steering Board is agreed with Defra by the Director General of Food Farming and Biosecurity and the APHA Chief Executive. The Steering Board is chaired by a Lead Non-Executive (‘the APHA Chair’) who is responsible to the sponsor minister and will report through the Chief Executive and Defra Director General as appropriate.  The Board comprises of four other Non-Executive Directors, the Chief Plant Health Officer (CPHO), the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), and seven Executive Directors (Including the Chief Executive).


To ensure the Steering Board operates effectively providing appropriate influence, expert advice, support and constructive challenge, bringing external experience and expertise to the Steering Board discussions in strategic and operational matters.

Chair Steering Board meetings and maintain a high level of discussion and debate, helping steer the Agency by collective working.

To ensure an annual Steering Board effectiveness review is performed with consideration of an independent input at least every two years, and that results from that review are acted upon.

Compliance with the Corporate Governance Code, Code of Conduct for Steering Board Members and rules relating to the use of public funds and conflicts of interest.

  • Ensure that the governance arrangements for the Agency are working in the most effective way  
  • Contribute to the delivery of the Annual Report and Accounts and Action Plans. 
  • To meet regularly with other Non-Executive Directors to ensure their views are understood and concerns escalated. 
  • To lead and provide the effective engagement of all Non-Executive Directors with the work of the Steering Board. 
  • Act as a spokesperson for the Agency when appropriate. 
  • Facilitate change and address any potential conflict with stakeholders when required. 
  • Work with the Chief Executive to give direction to the members of the Steering Board and to ensure meetings are well planned, meaningful and reflect the responsibilities of the Agency. 
  • Monitor that decisions taken at meetings are implemented. 
  • Establish and build a strong relationship with the Chief Executive, while ensuring they are held to account for achieving agreed objectives.

Person specification

Essential criteria

  • Integrity, probity and high ethical standards, with a comprehensive understanding of the principles of governance and systems of control, and how to apply them appropriately.  

  • An ability to maintain a sense of perspective and to pick out critical issues, and to question intelligently, debate constructively, challenge rigorously and decide dispassionately.  

  • Independence of mind and sound judgement, together with the ability to provide impartial, objective and pragmatic advice.  

  • Sufficient strength of character to seek and obtain full and satisfactory answers within the environment of the Steering Board.  

  • Effective communication and relationship building skills, including the ability to negotiate, influence, challenge and listen sensitively to the views of others  

  • An ability to engender trust and confidence, and to adopt a coaching style particularly with the Chief Executive, Executive Directors and other senior managers in APHA  

  • A commitment to the 7 principles of public life, together with the willingness and availability to devote the necessary time to understand the business dynamics and context

Desirable criteria

  • Experience of operating at a senior strategic leadership level within an organisation
  • Successful track record of achievement through their career
  • An understanding of government and of public sector delivery models
  • Significant experience of chairing meetings and events 

Application and selection process

How to apply

To apply you will need to create an account or sign in to Apply for Public Appointment Service by the deadline of noon on 24 November 2023 quoting reference APHA0223. Once logged onto your account, click on ‘apply for this role’ and follow the on-screen instructions. 

To apply, all candidates are required to submit: 

  • A CV of no more than two sides of A4 with education, professional qualifications and employment history and the names and contact details for two referees.
  • A statement of suitability giving evidence of the strength and depth of your ability to meet the essential criteria for this role. Please provide specific examples to demonstrate how you meet each of the criteria (max two pages please).
  • equality information 
  • information relating to any outside interests or reputational issues

For further information please email: Krista Rooney at

Overview of the application process

Public appointments are made on merit following a fair and open competition process which is conducted in accordance with the Governance Code for Public Appointments. We will deal with your application as quickly as possible and will keep you informed at key stages. We aim to conclude the appointment process within three months of the deadline for applications – this is in accordance with the Governance Code.

The assessment process

  1. Ministers are responsible and accountable to Parliament for the public appointments made within their department. As a result, they must be consulted at every stage of the appointments process.

  2. An Advisory Assessment Panel (“Panel”) is appointed by Ministers to assist them in their decision making. The role of the Panel is to decide, objectively, which candidates meet the eligibility criteria for the role.

  3. At the shortlisting meeting the Panel will assess applications against the eligibility criteria and decide which candidates have best met the criteria, who should be recommended for interview. Ministers will then be consulted on the Panel’s recommended shortlist. If you have applied under the Disability Confident Scheme and you meet all the essential criteria, then you will also be invited for an interview.

  4. Once the shortlist has been agreed by Ministers, you will be advised (by e-mail) whether you have been shortlisted. Those shortlisted will be invited to an interview.

  5. The Panel will meet again to interview candidates and determine who is appointable to the role. The Panel may invite you to make a brief presentation at the start of the interview and will go on to question you about your skills and experience, including asking specific questions to assess whether you meet the criteria set out for the post. The Panel will also explore with you any potential conflicts of interest or any other issues arising from your personal and professional history which may impact on an appointment decision.

  6. Details of the panel’s assessment of interviewed candidates are provided to Ministers, including whether they have judged a candidate to be appointable to the role. It is then for Ministers to determine merit and decide who should be appointed. In some circumstances, Ministers may choose not to appoint any candidates and re-run the competition.

  7. Ministers may choose to meet with candidates before deciding the outcome. Candidates should therefore be prepared for a short time gap between interview and a final appointment decision being made. Candidates who have been interviewed will be kept informed of progress.

  8. Once the decision on the appointment has been made, interviewed candidates will be advised of the outcome of their application, including whom they may approach for feedback. Successful candidates will be issued with their Terms & Conditions and a letter of appointment should they agree to take up the position.

Further information about appointments, including tips on applying, can be found on our guidance pages on

Advisory Assessment Panel (AAP)

Sally Randall - Director General for Defra’s Food, Biosecurity and Trade DG group -Departmental Official – Panel Chair

David Holdsworth - APHA Chief Executive - Representative of Organisation

Vicki Brookes -Defra group HR Director - APHA, RPA & VMD - Departmental Official

Eligibility criteria

In general, you should have the right to work in the UK to be eligible to apply for a public appointment.

There are a small number of specialist roles that are not open to non-British citizens. Any nationality requirements will be specified in the vacancy details.

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. 

You cannot be considered for a public appointment if:

  • you are disqualified from acting as a company director  (under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986);

  • have an unspent conviction on your criminal record;

  • your estate has been sequestrated in Scotland or you enter into a debt arrangement programme under Part 1 of the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 17) as the debtor or have, under Scots law, granted a trust deed for creditors.

When you apply, you should declare if:

  • you are, or have been, bankrupt or you have made an arrangement with a creditor at any point, including the dates of this. 

  • you are subject to a current police investigation.

You must inform the sponsor department if, during the application process, your circumstances change in respect of any of the above points. 

When you apply you should also declare any relevant interests, highlighting any that you think may call into question your ability to properly discharge the responsibilities of the role you are applying for. You should also declare any other matters which may mean you may not be able to meet the requirements of the Code of Conduct of Board Members (see Outside interests and reputational issues section below)
If you need further advice, please email: Krista Rooney at

Security clearance

The successful candidate will be required to undertake Baseline Personnel Security Standard checks in line with the Civil Service guidelines. Additional Security Clearance may also be required for certain roles. However, where this applies, candidates will be notified during the appointment process. Further information on National Security Vetting can be found on the website here.

Additional information for candidates

Equality and diversity

We encourage applications from talented individuals from all backgrounds and across the whole of the United Kingdom. Boards of public bodies are most effective when they reflect the diversity of views of the society they serve and this is an important part of the Government’s levelling up agenda.
We collect data about applicants’ characteristics and backgrounds, including information about people’s educational and professional backgrounds, so that we can make sure we are attracting a broad range of people to these roles and that our selection processes are fair for everyone. Without this information, it makes it difficult to see if our outreach is working, if the application process is having an unfair impact on certain groups and whether changes are making a positive difference.
When you submit your application, your responses are collected by the Cabinet Office and the government department(s) managing your application. The data is used to produce management information about the diversity of applicants. You can select “prefer not to say” to any question you do not wish to answer. The information you provide will not be seen by the Advisory Assessment Panel who review applications against the advertised criteria and conduct interviews.

Disability confident

We are a member of the Government’s Disability Confident scheme. We use the Disability Confident scheme symbol, along with other like-minded employers, to show our commitment to good practice in employing people with a disability. The scheme helps recruit and retain disabled people. 
As part of implementing the scheme, we guarantee an interview for anyone with a disability whose application meets the essential criteria for the role, set out in the advert, and who has asked that their application is considered under the scheme. Indicating that you wish your application to be considered under the scheme will in no way prejudice your application. By ‘minimum criteria,’ we mean that you must provide evidence which demonstrates that you meet the level of competence required under each of the essential criteria, as set out in the job-advert.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to select if you would like your application considered under this scheme.

Reasonable adjustments

We are committed to making reasonable adjustments to make sure applicants with disabilities, physical or mental health conditions, or other needs are not substantially disadvantaged when applying for public appointments. This can include changing the recruitment process to enable people who wish to apply to do so.
Some examples of common changes are:
  • ensuring that application forms are available in different or accessible formats;
  • making adaptations to interview locations;
  • allowing candidates to present their skills and experience in a different way;
  • giving additional detailed information on the selection / interview process in advance to allow candidates time to prepare themselves;
  • allowing support workers, for example sign language interpreters;
  • making provision for support animals to attend.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to request reasonable adjustments to the application process.

Principles of public life

Holders of public office are expected to adhere to and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life. These are:
  1. Selflessness - Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
  2. Integrity - Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
  3. Objectivity - Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
  4. Accountability - Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
  5. Openness - Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
  6. Honesty - Holders of public office should be truthful.
  7. Leadership - Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

Code of conduct for board members

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. In support of this, all non-executive board members of UK public bodies must abide by the principles set out in the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. The Code sets out the standards expected from those who serve on the boards of UK public bodies and will form part of your terms and conditions of appointment.

Management of outside interests and consideration of reputational issues

Holders of public office are expected to adhere and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life and the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. Before you apply you should consider carefully: 
  • any outside interests that you may have, such as shares you may hold in a company providing services to government; 
  • any possible reputational issues arising from your past actions or public statements that you have made; 
  • and/or - any political roles you hold or political campaigns you have supported; 
which may call into question your ability to do the role you are applying for.
You will need to answer relevant questions in relation to these points when making an application. Many conflicts of interest can be satisfactorily resolved and declaring a potential conflict does not prevent you from being interviewed. If you are shortlisted for an interview, the panel will discuss any potential conflicts with you during that interview, including any proposals you may have to mitigate them and record that in their advice to ministers. Alongside your own declaration, we will conduct appropriate checks, as part of which we will consider anything in the public domain related to your conduct or professional capacity. This may include searches of previous public statements and social media, blogs or any other publicly available information. The successful candidate(s) may be required to give up any conflicting interests and their other business and financial interests may be published in line with organisational policies. 
Details of declared political activity will be published when the appointment is announced, as required by the Governance Code (political activity is not a bar to appointment, but must be declared).

Status of appointment

As this is an office holder appointment, you will not become a member of the Civil Service. You will not be subject to the provisions of employment law.

Appointment and tenure of office

Appointments are for the term set out in this advert, with the possibility of re-appointment for a further term, at the discretion of Ministers.  Any re-appointment is subject to satisfactory annual appraisals of performance during the first term in the post. There is no automatic presumption of reappointment; each case should be considered on its own merits, taking into account a number of factors including, but not restricted to, the diversity of the current board and its balance of skills and experience. In most cases, the total time served in post will not exceed more than two terms or serve in any one post for more than ten years

Remuneration, allowances and abatement

Remuneration for this role is treated as employment income and will be subject to tax and National Insurance contributions, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid. 

Pension and redundancy

This is an office holder appointment and does not attract any benefits under any Civil Service Pension Scheme. You will not be eligible for redundancy pay as you are not an employee. No other arrangements have been made for compensation upon the end of your term of appointment because an office holder who is appointed for a limited duration would have no expectation of serving beyond that period.

Application feedback

We will notify you of the status of your application. We regret that we are only able to offer detailed feedback to candidates who have been unsuccessful at the interview stage.

How to complain

We aim to process all applications as quickly as possible and to treat all applicants with courtesy. 
Please email: Krista Rooney at if you would like to make a complaint regarding your application. They will acknowledge your complaint upon receipt and respond within 15 working days.

Data protection

The Cabinet Office will use your data in line with our privacy policy.

Contact details

If you need further advice, please email: Krista Rooney at


  • 8th January 2024
  • 11th January 2024