Hudson directs comms after DEFRA debacle

The beleaguered Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

is set to appoint Lucian Hudson as its director of communications.



An early priority will be to restore public confidence in the recently

created department, which has been criticised following revelations last

week of a mix-up in BSE testing.



Scientists carrying out the tests in sheep may have been analysing cows

by mistake, it was revealed.



Former BBC journalist Hudson, who has been acting comms director since 8

October, will first have to rein in Secretary of State Margaret Beckett,

who has already ignored his press office's advice with disastrous

consequences.



A press release detailing the BSE blunder was rushed out late last

Wednesday on her orders despite the press office wanting to arrange a

full and detailed press briefing the next morning.



This missed many news deadlines and brought accusations from

Conservative rural affairs spokesman Peter Ainsworth that 'burying'

tactics were being used.



Hudson was brought in as deputy comms director in June to assist in the

handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis. He takes over from Robert Lowson,

a career civil servant, who has returned to a policy role.



Hudson joined the civil service in October last year when he became the

Government's first director of e-comms, based in the Cabinet Office.



He also has 17 years journalism experience, mostly at the BBC.



Leader, p12.



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