Former SNP spin doctor who stepped down after row made chief executive

Mr Foote will take up his post on Monday (Jane Barlow/PA)
Mr Foote will take up his post on Monday (Jane Barlow/PA)

The former SNP head of communications who stepped down after being misled over membership figures will return to the party as its chief executive.

Murray Foote left the post earlier this year after being given false information by his predecessor Peter Murrell to provide to the media, suggesting the party’s membership was more than 100,000, when it was really around 72,000.

Mr Murrell – the husband of former first minister Nicola Sturgeon – also resigned in response to the scandal, before being arrested the following month in relation to the probe into the party’s finances and released without charge pending further investigation.

Mr Foote, who will start in the role on Monday, said: “I am delighted to take up this important role and look forward to helping build the campaign for independence, both by strengthening the SNP’s headquarter functions and supporting the party’s formidable organisation across Scotland.”

Before taking on the role of the party’s chief spin doctor, Mr Foote was the editor of the Daily Record newspaper, where he famously engineered the Vow – a pledge by UK political leaders to give Scotland more powers in the lead-up to the 2014 independence referendum, which was made on the newspaper’s front page.

The party’s business convener Kirsten Oswald said: “Murray was an exceptional candidate in a strong field.

“His managerial experience and skills will enable him to hit the ground running in delivering for SNP members, including leading changes in governance and transparency in party headquarters.”

The new party head takes the reins at a difficult time for the SNP, with the continuing police probe which has already resulted in the arrest of Mr Murrell along with Ms Sturgeon and then treasurer Colin Beattie.

The party’s electoral fortunes also appear to be on the turn, polls suggest.

Since 2010, the SNP has won every election in Scotland, including securing a majority at Holyrood in 2011 which in turn paved the way for the 2014 referendum.

But recent polls suggest a resurgent Labour Party could catch the SNP, with a Survation survey released on Wednesday showing just two points between the parties in Westminster voting intention.