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  1. ITV Report

Environment Agency Chairman Sir Philip Dilley resigns

Sir Philip Dilley was criticised for his response to the crisis. Credit: PA Wire

Environment Agency Chairman Sir Philip Dilley, who came under fire during the recent floods, has resigned.

Sir Philip said he had quit as the "expectations of the role have expanded to require the Chairman to be available at short notice throughout the year" - a requirement he felt was "inappropriate".

He insisted he was well-qualified to carry out the role but media scrutiny on him was "diverting attention" from efforts to help the thousands affected by flooding.

Last week, Sir Philip admitted to MPs that he "should have come home earlier from Barbados" after the extent of the flooding devastation became clear.

In his resignation statement, he also denied making any misleading statements apart from the one "about my location over Christmas that in hindsight could have been clearer".

Elizabeth Truss, the environment secretary, paid tribute to the outgoing chairman, saying he had led the agency through "some challenging times and leaves it a much better organisation".

"We will begin the task of recruiting a permanent replacement in due course," she said in a statement accepting Sir Philip's resignation.

Thousands of homes were hit by the recent flooding. Credit: PA Wire
The outgoing agency chief was in Barbados at the time of the floods. Credit: PA Wire
Sir Philip Dilley facing questions from MPs. Credit: PA Wire

Sir Philip Dilley's resignation statement in full

I have today told the Secretary of State of my decision to step down as Chairman of the Environment Agency, and she has accepted my resignation.

I am well qualified to carry out this role, and had much to contribute. I fully support the Secretary of State's reform agenda to deliver efficiency as well as a better, more joined-up service to our stakeholders and the public, and so I am disappointed that I will not now see through delivery of these reforms.

My reason for resigning is that the expectations of the role have expanded to require the Chairman to be available at short notice throughout the year, irrespective of routine arrangements for deputy and executive cover. In my view this is inappropriate in a part-time non-executive position, and this is something I am unable to deliver.

Furthermore the media scrutiny focused on me is diverting attention from the real issue of helping those whose homes and businesses have flooded, as well as the important matter of delivering a long-term flood defence strategy. This same media attention has also affected and intruded on my immediate family, which I find unacceptable.

I want to be clear that I have not made any untrue or misleading statements, apart from approving the statement about my location over Christmas that in hindsight could have been clearer.

The Environment Agency is an extremely competent and well-run organisation, and the many employees I have met are passionate about what they do because they really care for the environment and the communities we work to enhance and protect.

I retain the full support of the board, which I know has a strong breadth of knowledge and experience, and with Sir James Bevan as the newly appointed Chief Executive the future of the Environment Agency is in strong hands.

– Sir Philip Dilley