TAVISH Scott has announced that he is to stand down as Shetland’s MSP after 20 years of service.
He has been appointed head of external affairs at Scottish Rugby.
Scott will formally resign from his MSP role in July and take up the new position in August.
He said it is the “right time for me to change direction”.
The Liberal Democrat was elected as Shetland’s MSP in 1999 after serving as a councillor for Lerwick Harbour and Bressay.
The local Liberal Democrat branch thanked Scott for his efforts over the last two decades and said that the mechanism to pick its next candidate for the upcoming by-election will be discussed at a meeting on Friday evening.
Scott said that “representing the people of Shetland has been my life for 20 years”.
“It has been an enormous privilege and honour to have been Shetland’s MSP since the Scottish Parliament opened in 1999,” he added.
“I want to thank people the length and breadth of the islands for their support over the years. The bread and butter of representing people is helping solve problems and making their case to government, organisations and businesses.
“I have always enjoyed the challenge of serving Shetland and it is the part of the job that I will, without doubt, miss the most. There have been many highlights, wonderful moments and intense political drama that I would not have missed for anything.”
Scott said he is “absolutely delighted to be joining Scottish Rugby at this incredibly exciting time for the sport in Scotland and across the world”.
“To have the opportunity to work for Scottish Rugby is a huge challenge and one that I cannot wait to begin,” he continued.
“I will miss the cut and thrust of politics and the people I have met and represented for 20 years, but there can be no better new beginning than working for Scottish Rugby.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Tavish Scott has been a loyal servant of the Liberal Democrats and the people of Shetland as a parliamentarian, minister and leader.
“From the day the Scottish Parliament was re-established he has put the people of his constituency first and campaigned fiercely on their behalf.
“As a huge sports fan, this is an enormous opportunity for him. I will miss having him beside me in parliament but wish him all the best in his new role.”
Conservative list MSP for the Highlands and Islands Jamie Halcro Johnston, meanwhile said: “As a former adviser to Highlands and Islands MSPs and as an MSP for the region now myself, I have seen first-hand Tavish’s commitment to standing up for local communities in Shetland, and his wider contribution to political and public life in Scotland.
“His geniality, compassion and resolve will be missed both in Shetland and at Holyrood, and I wish him well in his new role and wherever the future takes him.”