The Food Standards Authority (FSA) has ordered board members to reveal any contact they have had with its former CEO Tim Smith for two years following his departure to supermarket giant Tesco, it has been revealed.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, emails have been released detailing the body’s need to “strengthen its governance arrangements” in response to criticism over the controversial move, according to The Guardian.
Last October, Smith began his new role as Tesco’s Technical Group Director and the FSA’s Chair Lord Rooker then emailed board members calling on them to “declare any contact with Tim at each open board meeting” in order that Smith, the board and the broader FSA would be protected.
Rooker acknowledged this controversy when he noted that “Tesco is not any old British company” though said that the move had thus far received “minimal comment”.
“Depending on which list you look at it is the third-largest UK employer (after the NHS and the Ministry of Defence), top own label supermarket, top UK market share in supermarkets, fourth in best retail brands and 24th in global brands,” Rooker added.
“That is enough on how good and big they are.”
Civil servants seeking work in the private sector must have applications approved by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments and Smith’s own appointment was approved by Prime Minister David Cameron on the advice of the committee.
The committee recommended that any personal involvement of Smith’s in lobbying the UK Government on behalf of Tesco’s should not take place for two years.
The FSA and Tesco have been thrust into the spotlight this year since the start of the horsemeat scandal which has engulfed the British food and supply chain industries and the body is to undertake an investigation into its own behaviour amid concern over its failure to identify the widespread issue.
Smith alerted the FSA of his decision to join the grocer last July and was asked to take a step back from his core responsibilities the following month, though continued to receive his £140,000 salary until October 2012, after receiving a £12,500 performance bonus that July.
A statement from Tesco said: “Tim Smith was appointed to his role as group technical director at Tesco in accordance with the rules set out by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. Tim Smith is fully aware of these rules and has abided by them throughout his time at Tesco.”