And don’t Dilley Dally on the way

The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday on the interesting story about Sir Philip Dilley, the Chairman of the Environment Agency, being out of the country on holiday in Barbados as the Boxing Day floods hit.

Now, to be charitable, everyone is allowed a holiday, and nobody could perhaps have accurately predicted Storm Eva’s arrival, but what was interesting was the way the Environment Agency apparently tried to give the impression that Sir Philip was fully in control in spite of being on holiday a few thousand miles away:

On Monday the Agency said: “Sir Philip Dilley is at home with his family over Christmas. He is in regular touch on the response to the current flooding, and available to participate in any necessary discussions.”

By Tuesday morning this had changed to: “Sir Philip Dilley is at home with his family, who are from Barbados, over Christmas.”

The Telegraph also reported that

He has previously criticised his predecessor, Lord Smith, for his slow response to the Somerset Levels, saying he arrived “a bit late” after the crisis, and saying he would not make the same mistakes

The irony is rather unmistakable isn’t it?

However, what is more interesting is the section that was subsequently edited out of the article as it stands currently . It read as follows:


We wondered if perhaps it has been removed because of some inaccuracy but we checked on and Sir Philip is clearly listed as a current director of Arup International Ltd.


Now, the fact that the chairman of the Environment Agency is a director of a company that has clear interests in one of its group’s clients (Cuadrilla) being successful clearly raises some interesting questions.

This conflict is highlighted by the page on Arup’s own website which makes Sir Philip’s commitment to furthering his clients’ interests abundantly clear:


The question we would like to see answered is how can Sir Philip square that otherwise laudable desire with the requirement to provide an objective and equitable service from the agency of which he is chair? We have no doubt that the individual civil servants charged with executing policy have no such conflicts, but policy does come from the top, even if the chairman concerned does only work 2- 3 days a week for his £100,000 per annum of tax payers’ money.

No doubt Sir Philip’s performance (assuming he remains in post) will now be watched with great interest by all involved.

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