Lib Dem MSP Jamie Stone to quit Holyrood at election

Image caption,
Jamie Stone said he would stand down at the next Holyrood election

Veteran Liberal Democrat Jamie Stone is quitting the Scottish Parliament at next year's Holyrood election.

The 56-year-old, who has represented Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross for 12 years, said he wanted to pursue new interests while "fit and well".

The colourful politician, who has proved popular among constituents, has courted some controversy during his time at parliament.

In 2007, he apologised after calling the SNP "xenophobic".

And as a member of the group in charge of overseeing the controversial Holyrood building project, he defended a decision to spend £88,000 on its reception desk as well as claims that MSPs' offices were badly designed.

Mr Stone, who did not rule out a return to politics, described support for his party as "undiminished", adding: "I have found my years of public service hugely rewarding and have made friendships that I am certain will last for many years to come."

The former Highland councillor led a varied career before entering politics, working as an English teacher in Sicily, as well as stints in the fishing and oil industries and as the director of a cheese company.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott described Mr Stone as a great friend and colleague.

"Jamie's work ensured that parliament was no creature of the central belt and truly reflected all of Scotland," he said.

"From Wick's maternity services to the Berridale Braes and the A9, Jamie has put the people of the far north first."

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