VETERAN SNP spin doctor Kevin Pringle has left the Scottish Government and said he will seek work outside of politics.

Pringle was brought back into government by former first minister Humza Yousaf last year and had previously worked for Alex Salmond at the height of the SNP’s powers.

He was viewed as a steadying figure when Yousaf brought him on board amid difficult moments for the party when former leader Nicola Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrell were arrested.

Sturgeon was arrested and released without charge days after Pringle's appointment. Murrell, the SNP’s former chief executive, has since been charged with embezzlement.

The National: Peter Murrell

Pringle came back to government after a spell working as a lobbyist for Charlotte Street Partners but was blamed by some in the Greens for ending their power-sharing deal with the SNP, which ultimately resulted in Yousaf’s resignation.

In a statement, Pringle said: “Working in government is a privilege, and one I greatly enjoyed, during both the last year and the years after the SNP was first elected in 2007.

“I wish the Scottish Government, and indeed MSPs of all parties, well in making the most of the new opportunities that lie ahead.

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“Regarding my own professional future, I want to take a little time to explore options for fulfilling challenges outside the world of government and politics.”

He started working for the SNP in 1989, becoming Salmond's chief spin doctor between 2007 and 2012.

The Herald reports that Kate Higgins was confirmed as remaining as a special advisor, a post she has held since 2015.

But former SNP MP Callum McCaig, who served under Sturgeon and was head of policy, is out.

In a post on LinkedIn, the former Aberdeen South MP said that a “change in First Minister seems like a logical time to try something new and to see a bit more of my family”.

The National: Liz Lloyd writes ahead of the SNP conference

Health Secretary Neil Gray thanked him for his “advice and support” while Sturgeon’s former chief of staff Liz Lloyd (above) said he would be “much missed”.

According to the Scottish Government’s website the current make up of the special advisor team is as follows:

  • Colin McAllister – chief of staff to the First Minister
  • Davie Hutchison – senior special adviser
  • Jeanette Campbell – senior special adviser
  • Sean McGivern – special adviser
  • Ewan Crawford – senior special adviser
  • Ross Ingebrigtsen – senior special adviser
  • Emily Mackintosh – senior special adviser

Special advisers – or SpAds as they are sometimes known – are able to advise ministers on political terms, unlike other civil servants, who must remain politically neutral.

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According to the Cabinet Office they “add a political dimension to the advice and assistance available to ministers while reinforcing the political impartiality of the permanent civil service by distinguishing the source of political advice and support”.

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They have been portrayed in fiction through characters such as Yes Minister’s Dorothy Wainwright, played by Deborah Norton and more recently in The Thick of It with Peter Capaldi’s turn as the ruthless Malcolm Tucker (above).

The roles are well-compensated, with Sturgeon’s government spending almost £2 million on 18 special advisers in her last year as first minister.

Two aides of her aides were paid in excess of £100,000. The lowest paid was paid between £53,915 and £56,428.