Possible comeback for Rooker at FSA

Former farming minister Lord Rooker could possibly be making a return to front-line food policy as the chair of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) it has emerged.

The Labour peer, who will reportedly give up the party whip if appointed, has been confirmed as the preferred candidate for the role in a process that could take a few weeks.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Following an independent recruitment exercise conducted by the Appointments Commission, The Rt Hon Lord Rooker, has been recommended as the preferred candidate for the post of Chair of the Food Standards Agency.

“The Secretary of State for Health has today invited the Health Select Committee (HSC) to hold a public pre-appointment scrutiny hearing and report on the candidate’s suitability for the post, in line with proposals announced in January for scrutiny of key positions in which Parliament has an interest.”

Health Secretary of State Andy Burnham will then make the final decision after consultations with the HSC.

Lord Rooker, who left his ministerial position at Defra in October, was only elected president of the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmer (RABDF) less than a month ago and will leave the post if he becomes the FSA chair.

Nick Everington, RABDF chief executive, said: “We are naturally disappointed by Lord Rooker’s decision to resign from the position of RABDF president, assuming the appointment is confirmed by the parliamentary select committee on Monday 6 July. We understand the reasons for his decision and believe he is an appropriate person for the job. Our immediate past president, Lady Byford has agreed to resume the position until a successor is confirmed.”

If successful, Lord Rooker will replace Dame Deirdre Hutton, who is to take up the chair of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) sometime in August a spokesperson for the CAA has confirmed.