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A CRUSADING crime journalist has been drafted in as top spin doctor for the Scottish Tories – as they bid to kill off hopes of an SNP majority.
Investigative reporter Russell Findlay has been appointed as right-hand man to leader Douglas Ross and Holyrood boss Ruth Davidson.
And his first task as director of communications will be to help formulate a strategy to stop the SNP grabbing a majority at next May’s Scottish Parliament elections.
Mr Findlay is a veteran reporter and true crime author, who currently works as an investigations specialist at STV.
This morning, he tweeted: « After two exhilarating years @STVNews, it’s almost time to head for the exit .
« It has been an honour working with so many talented people. Just working to get some final stories across the line. »
In 2015 – while working for The Scottish Sun – he hit the headlines after he was the victim of a gangland-related acid attack on the doorstep of his Glasgow home.
Burns – who previously shot a woman in a post office robbery – was jailed for ten years in July 2017.
In 2018, Mr Findlay wrote a book – Acid Attack – about his ordeal and flaws in the justice system.
He has previously penned non-fiction books including « The Iceman: The Rise and Fall of a Crime Lord » – about notorious gangland figure Jamie Stevenson.
A Holyrood source said: « Russell is a formidable and fearless reporter but he has his work cut out to resurrect the hopes of the Scottish Tories. »
Douglas Ross said: “Russell has a huge breadth of experience across Scottish media and there are very few other journalists with his investigate instincts.
« I’m thrilled to have him on-board and I’m sure he will prove to be a huge asset to the party.
“Russell will head up an expanded, well-rounded Scottish Conservative team with the press and policy expertise to lead us into the election campaign firing on all cylinders.”
Mr Findlay said: “After 27 years in newspaper and broadcast journalism, I am delighted to be taking up this post with the Scottish Conservatives.
“It is a privilege to be joining Douglas Ross and as he leads the party into next year’s crucial Holyrood election. »
Mr Findlay is understood to have known Ms Davidson for several years, having sought to enlist the help of opposition parties in articles about justice reform.
In a 2018 newspaper column, the then-Scottish Tory leader wrote: « Is it any wonder that people are losing faith in a justice system which seems entirely tilted against the victim?
« That question has been picked up recently by investigative journalist Russell Findlay in his book Acid Attack.
« After a career in Glasgow bravely exposing some of Scotland’s most dangerous organised criminals, Russell opened his door just before Christmas in 2015 and had acid flung in his face by a local gangster called William Burns.
« Burns had first been jailed in 2001 for 15 years for shooting an unarmed female security guard. He had then been released after ten years on licence. « He soon broke the terms of that licence and was sent back to jail, only then to be released again, all before the end of his original term.
« A few weeks later, he turned up on Russell’s front door with intent to kill.
« Shockingly, none of what Russell describes as ‘yo-yo’ justice was carried out transparently – it was only thanks to journalists investigating that Burns’ case history ever came to light. »
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