The Food Standards Agency - set up in April to allay public fears
in the wake of the BSE crisis - has appointed Neil Martinson as its
first director of communications.
Martinson joins the organisation at the beginning of July from BBC News
where he is currently head of media relations. He will run a department
which will have responsibilities for media relations, public affairs and
a public health enquiry line.
Martinson said: ’Food safety is a big issue and it will be exciting to
be in there at the start, setting up the department and recruiting new
people. There is a large demand for accurate information about food
safety and we will be filling this need.There is a big scope, we will
also be incorporating some activities from the Ministry of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Food.’
He added: ’The main challenge will be in communicating effectively to
people what they can expect in an area where there is a lot of
Take food labelling for example, what does ’farm fresh’ mean?’
The department he joins is currently 14 strong - including four press
officers, four publicity officers and five people manning the
One of Martinson’s first tasks will be to look at this structure and see
if it can be improved.
The FSA is currently in the process of creating five new roles including
head of publicity, new media editor, editor for a range of publications,
plus two more press officers. All will report to Martinson.
He replaces Leonie Austin, who was seconded from the DTI press office to
head media relations for the first six months of the FSA’s
Austin is set to continue at the FSA in a full time communications
position in ’a role that is still to be determined,’ said Martinson.
One of the FSA’s main activities will be running specific campaigns on
topical issues, but Martinson does not anticipate any agency
Prior to working at the BBC for two years, he was deputy head of press
and publicity in the early days of the Dome and has also been a
freelance consultant for three years. He also headed communications at
Haringay Council between 1989 and 1994. He will report to FSA chief
executive Geoffrey Podger.