The embattled Environment Agency chair has returned from his ill-timed Barbados holiday to a flooded Britain as it was revealed he had pledged to “turn up in [his] wellingtons very early on” when the country was gripped by crisis.
When questioned by MPs before his appointment in 2014, Sir Philip Dilley vowed to work “six or seven days a week” during a severe situation, such as Storm Frank.
But he actually spent the past fortnight enjoying a sunny break with his wife in the Caribbean while Yorkshire, Scotland and Wales faced extreme weather.
Sir Dilley - who earns £100,000 a year for a three day a week job - will be grilled on his response to the fresh crisis by MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee once more next week.
He was criticised during a visit to northern England this week for apparently trying to dodge the media, in what his staff admitted was a plan to avoid "scrutiny", The Telegraph reported.
A former business advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron, he took over the role in September 2014 after his predecessor, Lord Chris Smith, stepped down after he was criticised for his slow response to floods in 2013 which wiped out the West Coast Mainline rail link.
In an interview with the Independent in December last year, Sir Dilley admitted Lord Smith could have responded earlier to the crisis but insisted that his presence would not have made “any real difference” to the people affected by the floods.
In Pictures: Floods hit the UK
In Pictures: Floods hit the UK
1/17 Floods hit the UK
Members of Cleveland Mountain Rescue and soldiers from 2 Battalion The Duke of Lancasters Regiment evacuating people from the Queens Hotel in York city centre as the River Ouse floods on December 27, 2015
2/17 Floods hit the UK
Teams in Whalley evacuate villagers from their homes
3/17 Floods hit the UK
A resident of Glenridding, which flooded for the third time this month, surveys the damage
4/17 Floods hit the UK
The River Ouse, York, has burst its banks
5/17 Floods hit the UK
A soldier from the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Lancaster’s regiment helps to sure up flood defences in Appleby, Cumbria, one of the areas worst affected by the floods
6/17 Floods hit the UK
Experts believe the cost of clearing up the most recent flooding could exceed £50m (PA)
7/17 Floods hit the UK
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes in York
8/17 Floods hit the UK
A police helicopter photographed the extent of the flooding in York on 27 December.
9/17 Floods hit the UK
Flooding at Clifford's Tower in York on 27 December
10/17 Floods hit the UK
Flooding along York's Inner Ring Road on 27 December
11/17 Floods hit the UK
Water runs out of the Lowther pub in York on 27 December after the River Ouse bursts its banks in York city centre.
12/17 Floods hit the UK
Flooded streets in Dumfries, Scotland on 30 December
13/17 Floods hit the UK
A car left submerged in floodwater in Newton Stewart, Scotland
14/17 Floods hit the UK
Staff at the Worlds End bar in Dumfries Scotland desperately try to pump floodwater out of the building
15/17 Floods hit the UK
A man stands in the doorway of his cottage in the flooded town of Straiton in Scotland
16/17 Floods hit the UK
Flooding in the village of Aberfeldy, Perthshire, Scotland
17/17 Floods hit the UK
Man wades through floodwater outside a fish and chip shop in Dumfries, Scotland
He said: “In reality, while it’s good to be seen and it’s good for public perception to show visible leadership, it wouldn’t have made any real difference to what happened to the people that suffered through their homes getting flooded.
“That must be a terrible thing to experience. And frankly whether Chris Smith is there in his wellingtons, or I’m there in my wellingtons, isn’t really going to make much difference.”
Sir Dilley is one of several public figures to have been criticised in the wake of the flooding. David Cameron and George Osborne have been attacked by an Oxford university professor for increasing the “damage and human misery” caused by the storm after cutting money for flood defences.Reuse content