Martinson appointed FSA comms director

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.

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

confusion.



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

helpline.



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

existence.



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

involvement.



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.



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