The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has appointed ex-Tate & Lyle chief executive Iain Ferguson as lead non-executive director.

Ferguson, who was chief executive of Tate and Lyle for six years, will sit on the newly-created supervisory board at Defra to review and monitor performance, finances and risk. The appointment is one of a number of changes announced by the Coalition Government in May to ensure outside appointments are made to help departments become more “business-like”.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “I am delighted to welcome Iain as the lead non-executive director to Defra. As a past member of the Council of Food Policy Advisers he is no stranger to Defra and I am confident that his skills, knowledge and experience will be a great asset to the Department.”

The new board, which will be chaired by the Secretary of State, will meet on a quarterly basis and include ministers, senior officials and non-executive directors.