Scotland politics

Holyrood chief executive Sir Paul Grice to leave

Sir Paul Grice Image copyright Scottish Parliament
Image caption Sir Paul Grice has been chief executive and clerk of the Scottish Parliament since 1999

The chief executive of the Scottish Parliament, Sir Paul Grice, is to step down after 20 years in the role.

Sir Paul helped set up the parliament after the devolution referendum in 1997 and has been clerk since the very first meeting of MSPs in 1999.

He is leaving the post to take over as principal and vice-chancellor of Queen Margaret University.

Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh said Sir Paul had been "vital" to Holyrood and would be "truly missed".

A long-standing civil servant, Sir Paul had a key role in setting up the Scottish Parliament following the devolution referendum, and managed the Scotland Act that laid the framework for the new institution.

The first person ever to speak in the reconvened parliament in May 1999 as the new MSPs were being sworn in, he was appointed clerk and chief executive that year and was given a knighthood for his public service in 2016.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sir Paul Grice (right) at an early meeting of the Scottish Parliament, alongside the Queen and Presiding Officer Sir David Steel

In a letter to MSPs announcing his departure, he said it had been "a privilege and a pleasure to have been involved with the parliament since the beginning", but that "now feels like the right time for me to go".

Mr Macintosh said Sir Paul had been "at the heart of the Scottish Parliament from the very beginning" and had brought "warmth, humour and generosity" to his role.

He added: "As we look back over the past 20 years, I would want to pay tribute to Paul's leadership, his knowledge and his commitment to the parliament, all of which have been vital in guiding the organisation through the many changes we have witnessed."

These tributes were echoed by political leaders, with Jackson Carlaw saying Sir Paul would be "an extremely tough act to follow" and Patrick Harvie praising his "tremendous service".

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