Michael Russell

Michael Russell (Mike Russell) (born 9 August 1953 in Bromley, Kent) is a Member of the Scottish Parliament for the South of Scotland region. Educated at the Marr College, Troon and Edinburgh University he worked in television and the media prior to establishing his own media company, Eala Bhan Ltd. He was Chief Executive of the SNP from 1994 to 1999 and was elected to the Scottish Parliament as a regional MSP for the South of Scotland at the first Scottish Parliament Elections in 1999. However he lost his seat in the 2003 Scottish Parliament Election. Russell was re-elected in May 2007 and was appointed Minister for Environment in Scotland's first-ever SNP administration by First Minister Alex Salmond.

Political evolution

Mike Russell was Chief Executive of the SNP in the period prior to the first Scottish election and has been an active member of the SNP for over three decades, often working closely with party leader, Alex Salmond.

When he lost his seat at the end of the first Scottish Parliament, Russell focused on his work as an author and newspaper columnist, commenting on various aspects of Scottish culture and Scottish politics. . He did, however, stand for the leadership of the SNP in 2004, in the election prompted by John Swinney's resignation. He finished third behind Alex Salmond and Roseanna Cunningham. Russell continued as a political commentator generating some controversy with his strongly pro-modernisation views which were more fully expressed in a book co-written with entrepreneur Dennis MacLeod called Grasping The Thistle (2006) .

Many SNP members saw Russell's absence from the Scottish Parliament as a great loss to the SNP's profile and performance there. He was placed second on the SNP regional list in the South of Scotland and was re-elected to Parliament in 2007. Following the SNP's narrow victory at the 2007 Scottish Parliament Election, Russell was appointed the Minister for Environment.


For many years, Russell has campaigned for justice on behalf of former police detective, Shirley McKie, who was awarded £750,000 compensation by the Scottish Executive in a February 2006 out-of-court settlement. The Justice 1 committee of the Scottish parliament conducted a nine-month inquiry into the McKie case in 2006, and its report was published on February 15, 2007.

In April 2007, Michael Russell and Shirley's father, Iain McKie, published a book on what they described as the worst miscarriage of justice in a generation: Shirley McKie - The Price of Innocence (ISBN 9781841585758).

The McKie case has now assumed an international significance with a possible linkage to the case of convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who was granted leave to appeal against his conviction for a second time by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission on June 28, 2007.


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