Christine Middlemiss has been appointed as the UK's next Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO).

Christine will take over from Nigel Gibbens who is stepping down at the end of February 2018 after 10 years in the post.

Christine, who comes from a farming family in the south of Scotland, is an experienced veterinary surgeon who worked for a number of years in private practice in Scotland and the north of England, prior to joining the Animal Health agency (now part of the Animal and Plant Health Agency) in 2008 as a Divisional Veterinary Manager in Scotland.

Since 2016, she has been working as the CVO in New South Wales, Australia, where she has led major improvements to biosecurity across many farming sectors.

Christine said: "I am delighted to have been appointed and it will be a privilege to lead my veterinary colleagues to support our farming and food industry in this hugely important role.

"I am very much looking forward to working again with the team at Defra, its agencies, the devolved administrations and all the individuals and groups which will contribute to meet future challenges across animal health and welfare.

"The UK Government has made no secret it wants to cement its place as a world-leader on animal welfare as they leave the European Union, and I’m delighted to have an opportunity to play a part in that."

Nigel said: "I would like to congratulate Christine on her success against a strong field of candidates and I am certain she will be a great addition to the department.

"Her breadth of experience from work within Government and in the private sector will enable her to provide excellent veterinary leadership to the Defra group to deliver government’s ongoing commitment to maintaining our high animal health and welfare standards and to represent the interests of the whole of the UK internationally."

Animal Welfare Minister Lord Gardiner added: "I warmly welcome Christine to her important role. She brings to it a wealth of experience and enthusiasm.

"This Government is embarking on an ambitious programme of animal welfare reform, including plans to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty to five years in prison and introducing mandatory CCTV in all abattoirs. Christine will be invaluable in helping us in achieving world leading standards.

"I thank Nigel Gibbens for his outstanding contribution as CVO over the past ten years. Leaving the department at the end of February, he is hugely respected across the veterinary community and beyond – leading on responses to disease outbreaks including avian influenza and advising government on issues from antimicrobial resistance to animal welfare."

British Veterinary Association President John Fishwick said: "We’d like to congratulate Christine Middlemiss on her appointment as the UK’s next CVO and welcome her return to Defra - as well as to the UK, following her 16 months as CVO in New South Wales, Australia.

"As Christine notes, she will take up her role amidst EU Exit negotiations when the vital role veterinary surgeons play in so many areas of political and public life must be championed and considered more than ever.

"The work of all vets in government is indispensable in protecting and promoting animal health and welfare and public health, and current UK CVO Nigel Gibbens CBE has been crucial in steering this with calm direction and sage insight from the heart of government.

"We hope to continue our effective working relationship with the new UK CVO, and really look forward the opportunity to work with Christine moving forwards."

Christine will take up her new role as CVO for the UK on the 1 March 2018.