Public appointment: Members appointed to the Food Standards Scotland Board

Public appointments news release.

The Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport, Maree Todd MSP, today announced the appointment of Mrs Christina Bichan, Dr Paula Charlesworth, Mr Phillip Couser and Miss Kate Richards as Members of the Food Standards Scotland Board.


Mrs Christina Bichan has over 20 years’ experience within the public sector, working both in a remote and rural, island location and at a national level.  With a Masters degree in Public Health and experience of leading performance, planning, quality improvement and governance functions within the NHS, Christina is based in Orkney and involved in a family owned food business.  Her interest lies in protecting and improving people’s health and wellbeing, and in the sustainability of remote and rural communities.

Dr Paula Charlesworth is a registered dietitian with a PhD in nutrition and physiology. Dr Charlesworth has worked in frontline NHS services, research and academia.  She brings regulatory experience, having served terms as a professional partner for the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service, sitting on their Fitness to Practise, Investigatory Committee and Appeals Panels.  Dr Charlesworth is currently a lay member and director of the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal and Lead Visitor for the Health and Care Professions Council, Education and Training Committee, reviewing academic programmes for education providers.

Mr Phillip Couser MBE  has worked at senior levels in the NHS in Scotland since 2013 and is currently a non-executive director on the Board of NHS Lanarkshire.  Until July 2021 he was the Director of Data Driven Innovation in Public Health Scotland (PHS) and prior to this he was Director for Public Health and Intelligence in NHS National Services Scotland.  From both these roles he brings a strong interest in public health and a passion for data driven and digitally enabled transformation.  Phillip’s NHS career started in 2008, gaining experience working in the Northeast of England and London.  Prior to this, Phillip had an Army career, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. Highlights included regimental command and the award of an MBE for leadership in national logistic planning for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Miss Kate Richards has breadth and depth of experience of agriculture and food production in the public and private sectors. A farm vet in Aberdeenshire she was also an Official Veterinarian to the Grampian Country Food Group and other commercial businesses. Leaving clinical practice Kate provided advice on livestock health to the UK subsidiary of a global pharmaceutical company before joining Defra as a farm animal welfare veterinary advisor where she was promoted to Scientific Secretary to SEAC, the scientific advisory committee formed in response to the growing BSE crisis.  As well as veterinary expertise, Kate has extensive experience of communications and stakeholder engagement through her work in five Whitehall departments and as a Council member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the veterinary regulator, and elected RCVS President 2021/22.  Kate is a Non-Executive Director of the Scottish Agriculture College (SAC) Commercial and the Moredun Research Institute Boards and has a passion for building connections and disseminating veterinary expertise for the benefit of public, as well as animal, health and welfare. 


Mr Couser’s appointment is for four years, from 14 November 2022 to 13 November 2026.

The appointments of Mrs Bichan, Dr Charlesworth and Miss Richards are for four years, from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2027.

The appointments are regulated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner.

Remuneration and time commitment

The appointments are part-time and attract a daily fee of £228.92 for a time commitment of up to four days per month.

Other ministerial appointments

Mr Couser is a Member of NHS Lanarkshire Board.  He receives £8,842 per annum for a time commitment of one day per week.  Mrs Christina Bichan, Dr Paula Charlesworth, and Miss Kate Richards do not hold any other public appointments.

Political activity

All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process.  However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity within the last five years (if there is any to be declared) to be made public.   

Mrs Christina Bichan, Dr Paula Charlesworth, Mr Phillip Couser and Miss Kate Richards have had no political activity within the last five years.


Food Standards Scotland is based in Aberdeen with 280.5 FTE staff in total, including field-based operations and veterinary staff. Monitoring and enforcing hygiene and safety standards along the supply chain, as well as monitoring animal welfare at slaughter, are central to the work that we do. They work very closely with Scotland’s 32 local authorities who have a key role in delivering our objectives on the ground, with responsibility for ensuring that food and feed businesses across Scotland are meeting their legal obligations and are producing and selling safe, authentic food. They also work closely with a wide range of stakeholder organisations and with other public bodies in Scotland and beyond.

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