Ex-SNP president approved as chair of Scottish Land Commission by MSPs

But the Scottish Conservatives said the appointment of Michael Russell to the role ‘reeked of nepotism’.

Ex-SNP president approved as chair of Scottish Land Commission in Holyrood vote PA Media

Former SNP president Michael Russell has been appointed chair of the Scottish Land Commission following parliamentary approval.

Russell, a former SNP MSP and Scottish Government minister, stepped away from Holyrood at the 2021 election but continued as party president until earlier this month.

His appointment was confirmed, alongside that of new land commissioners Craig MacKenzie and Deborah Roberts, on Thursday after a Scottish Government amendment was backed by 64 votes to 54.

Russell was recommended for the role by an independent panel, which was then subject to parliamentary approval.

The role will see him advise Scottish ministers on the ongoing programme of land reform, and provide leadership for change in culture and practice.

Mairi Gougeon said the appointment process is ‘robust, fair, transparent and accountable’.
Mairi Gougeon said the appointment process is ‘robust, fair, transparent and accountable’.

Land reform secretary Mairi Gougeon said the code of practice for the appointment ensured the “most able candidates” were recommended.

She said: “We have a process for these appointments. This is robust, fair, transparent and accountable.

“I therefore welcome its recommendation in its report to Parliament that Michael Russell be approved as the next chair of the Scottish Land Commission.”

But Scottish Conservative Douglas Lumsden told the chamber: “Make no mistake, this is a political appointment for an increasingly desperate devolved Government.”

He said the appointment is a “job for the boys” and that it “reeked of nepotism”.

He added: “This is a bad judgment appointment that will not build bridges, but will sow division and be bad for our rural sector.”

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