The SNP’s former spin doctor who stepped down after being misled over membership figures will return to the party as its chief executive.
Murray Foote left his head of communications post earlier this year after being given misleading information by then-SNP chief executive 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 police probe into the party’s finances. He was released without charge pending further investigation.
Mr Foote, a former editor of the Daily Record, said he was “delighted” to take up the role of SNP chief executive, adding that he was looking forward “to helping build the campaign for independence”.
He was the SNP’s head of communication and research at Holyrood from February 2020 to March 2023 before stepping down from that role amid the row over party membership numbers.
Although initially branding the news reports as “drivel”, it eventually emerged that the SNP had lost around 30,000 party members since 2021.
Mr Foote said he acted in “good faith” when issuing agreed party responses to media inquiries.
Mr Murrell shouldered the blame and resigned as chief executive after more than two decades at the helm of the party.
At the time, he said: “While there was no intent to mislead, I accept that this has been the outcome.”
Mr Murrell, Ms Sturgeon and ex-party treasurer Colin Beattie have each been arrested and released without charge amid a police probe into the SNP’s funding and finances.
The inside story of SNP police probe
Sturgeon writing ‘deeply personal and revealing’ memoir
The SNP said Mr Foote’s appointment followed the conclusion of a “rigorous, open recruitment process” that “generated significant interest from a range of high-quality candidates”.
Kirsten Oswald MP, SNP business convener, 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.”
Mr Foote will take up his appointment on Monday.