Nigel Gibbens



Nigel Gibbens MRCVSNigel Gibbens qualified from the Royal Veterinary College in 1981. He then spent two years in mixed practice in Derbyshire before training for a Masters degree in Tropical Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

He worked in Government veterinary services in Belize and Yemen before joining the UK State Veterinary Service in December 1990 where he had a lead role in international trade and exotic disease contingency planning.

Nigel moved to the Central Animal Health Policy Group in 1996 and worked on international trade for eight years, followed by TSE research, surveillance and controls, animal welfare, and international relations coordination for DEFRA’s Food and Farming Group.

He became UK Chief Veterinary Officer in May 2008.

Nigel is married with no children. He enjoys cycling, running and walking and spends a lot of his spare time gardening and fixing the house.


Council Member category

  • Appointed: Privy Council, 2008 - 2020

Declaration of interests




Appointments to other bodies

Membership of other veterinary or allied organisations

  • AGV
  • VPHA


  • 1981 - 1983 Qualified Royal Vet College, London, then general practice in Alfreton, Derbyshire, W Bacon principle.
  • 1983 - 1984 Masters degree in Tropical Veterinary Medicine, Edinburgh.
    State veterinary medicine, epidemiology and animal disease and husbandry in the tropics. Followed by a few months working for Glasgow Large Animal Practice Teaching Unit.
  • 1985 - 1988 Belize (National Government)
    Government provision of veterinary services, including public health. Maintained USDA approval to allow beef exports to the USA.
  • 1988 - 1990 Yemen (British Government aid)
    Led local teams to deliver regional vaccination programmes. Experience of major animal diseases (rinderpest, rabies, sheep & goat pox, foot and mouth disease).
  • 1990 - 1996 MAFF, Winchester, UK
    Veterinary Field Service: delivery of Government animal health and welfare objectives. Lead role on international trade and exotic disease contingency planning. Member of national exotic disease epidemiology team.
  • 1996 - 2002 Veterinary posts in Animal Health & Welfare policy group, MAFF
    Developed expertise in the UK and EU animal and public health regulatory frameworks; worked in various EU fora; Managed the Classical Swine Fever Disease Emergency Control Centre from October to December 2000.
  • 2002 - 2004 Head of International Animal Health Division, Defra
    Established and led a new integrated team of veterinary and policy specialists dealing with rules for international trade and artificial breeding controls.  Set up international disease monitoring and formal import risk analysis.
  • 2005 - 2006 Head of BSE and Animal By-Products Division, Defra
    Developed and delivered the negotiating strategy to end the “over thirty month rule” and the ban on exports of cattle and beef from the UK.
  • 2006 - 2007 Head of Animal Welfare Division, Defra
    Led integrated team of veterinary and policy specialists dealing with all aspects of animal welfare.  Concluded passage of Animal Welfare Bill and agreed Animal Welfare Delivery Strategy.  Prepared team for restructuring under Defra Renew process.
  • 4/2007-5/2008 Head of FFG International Relations Core Team, Defra
    Leading new team responsible for capacity building and strategic overview of all international business of Defra’s Food and Farming Group.
  • 5/2008 to now Chief Veterinary Officer, Defra

Qualifications (other than veterinary qualifications listed in the Register)

Interests relating to immediate family or close friends

Other relevant information