The Welsh Government has defended the appointment of Sir David Henshaw as interim chair of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) after concerns were raised about his controversial work history.
Sir David was appointed to the 12-month role after NRW’s former chair resigned following a scandal about the sale of timber.
But Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary, questioned whether he was ‘the right person to steer NRW to calmer waters’ given his limited experience of environmental matters and his troubled public sector background.
Mr Gruffydd said: “Sir David was chief executive at Liverpool City Council, but was forced to leave under a cloud in 2006 – with a £340,000 payoff – over allegations about sensitive documents being leaked to the UK Government.
“In the same year, he was appointed chief executive to a North West NHS Trust. This prompted 22 MPs from the region to write an open letter saying they could not work with him.
“In 2010, he was appointed chief executive of Alder Hey hospital, prompting the man tasked with rebuilding the hospital to resign in protest.
“And the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy had this to say about him: ‘A man in whom I have no confidence and for whom I have no respect’.
“Is this the right man for the job?”
Rural Affairs Secretary Lesley Griffiths strongly defended his appointment when these concerns were put to her by Farmers Guardian.
She said: “Obviously I do think he is the right person. He went through the Public Appointments Commission in Whitehall, so I am very happy to have appointed him.”
A Welsh Government spokesman added Sir David’s ‘wealth of experience in governance’ would be used during his time at NRW.
Recruitment of a permanent chair will begin in early spring 2019.