Defra raids education to grab media chief

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has poached schools standards minister David Miliband’s chief press secretary, Lyn Bryan.

Bryan joined Defra as press secretary to Environment minister Margaret Beckett last week, becoming the main link between Beckett and the media after a shake-up of the structure and staffing of the department’s communications (PRWeek, 19 November).

Bryan will be Beckett’s main PR adviser and spokesperson, and will handle the minister’s public appearances, duties that were previously split between director of communications Lucian Hudson and the department’s head of news, Martyn Smith.

‘My role will enable Martyn and Lucian to concentrate more on strategic issues and the day-to-day management of the communications department,’ said Bryan, who was at the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) for more than three years.

A DfES spokeswoman said Bryan’s role had been abolished as part of a restructure of the department’s press office. The spokeswoman declined to comment further.

Defra is still looking for its third senior comms adviser following the announcement in May of its plan to appoint strategic communications advisers for the six key areas within its remit – prudent use of natural resources, improving rural economies, promoting a low-carbon economy, encouraging sustainability in farming, boosting recycling, and protecting public health and animal welfare.

The department had already appointed Mark Tollit and Jill Stevens to its two other strategic comms posts: environment and rural affairs.

Last month, Beckett announced cuts to Defra’s budget as part of a shake-up recommended by Lord Haskins’s report on agencies responsible for rural affairs. The review recommended the creation of a single, independent land agency.

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