It has been a tough week for Jim Scudamore, chief veterinary officer at the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
The 56-year-old University of Liverpool graduate, who is responsible for animal health in England and Wales, has called for drastic action to halt the nationwide spread of foot-and-mouth disease.
It was he who first warned agriculture minister Nick Brown, after the first two cases were discovered, that foot-and-mouth disease could appear anywhere in the United Kingdom. His advice led to the ministry's decision to outlaw the movement of all sheep, cattle, pigs and goats.
The last serious outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease was in 1967, when more than 2,300 cases were detected around Britain, sparking the slaughter of 442,000 animals.
Before this week's events, Mr Scudamore had enjoyed a relatively successful time at the helm. Last summer, he was credited with persuading the European Commission to lift its ban on the export of live British pigs from all counties but three in East Anglia after an outbreak of swine fever.
Mr Scudamore's other roles include advising on the trial culls of badgers to help determine whether there is a link between the animals and tuberculosis in cattle.
Mr Scudamore was educated at Chester City Grammar School and then went on to the University of Liverpool. He gained his bachelor of veterinary science and qualified as veterinary surgeon in 1967. A year later, he took a bachelor of science degree.
His first job was as a district veterinary officer in Kenya. After three years he was promoted to a veterinary research officer.
Mr Scudamore joined Maff years ago. He rose through the ranks from the veterinary investigation service, gaining divisional and regional responsibilities, before becoming chief veterinary officer in 1997.
He lists his hobbies as reading, swimming and gardening.