The Scottish Executive has ended its hunt for its first permanent
press office chief.
Colin Imrie will take up the senior civil service communications post
next month. He has been promoted from within the executive, where he is
currently head of the European structural funds division.
Imrie will lead a 36-strong press team and report to Robert Gordon, head
of the executive secretariat.
He will work alongside Scotland's first minister Henry McLeish's press
secretary Peter McMahon, former Daily Mirror political editor, who was
recruited last October.
Imrie's appointment comes at the same time as the departure of Susan
Stewart, one of two deputy heads of press.
Stewart is leaving to take up the role of Scotland's representative at
the British Embassy in Washington.
The other deputy head of press is Andrew Baird. He said: 'Colin has a
solid track record within the civil service in Scotland, working within
a range of fields, including agriculture and education. He has lots of
experience in media relations during the course of his career.'
Baird added that among the PR drives to be overseen by Imrie over the
coming months will be the introduction of free personal care for the
elderly, a major school building programme and education reforms.
The top press office role was created along with the post of head of new
media as part of a reshuffle last year that saw the scrapping of the
head of information role.
Following the restructure, PROs were given specialist areas in a move
designed to increase lines of communication with ministers.
The press post had been filled in the interim by Owen Kelly, who joined
in June 2000 on a 12-month placement.
Kelly left this summer to become director of properties at Historic
Scotland, which looks after more than 300 historic buildings, including
Imrie has been with the civil service in Scotland since 1990, first at
the Scottish Office and then the executive.
During this time he worked for two years as Scotland's representative in
Brussels for government body UK Representation, which deals with energy