Muir Russell

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Sir Muir Russell
Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow
In office
1 October 2003 – 1 October 2009
Preceded by Professor Sir Graeme Davies
Succeeded by Professor Anton Muscatelli
Permanent Secretary to the
Scottish Executive
In office
May 1998 – July 2003
First Minister Donald Dewar
Henry McLeish
Jack McConnell
Preceded by Sir Russell Hillhouse
Succeeded by Sir John Elvidge
Chair of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland
In office
First Minister Alex Salmond
Preceded by Neil McIntosh
Succeeded by Dr Michael Ewart
Personal details
Born Alastair Muir Russell
(1949-01-09) 9 January 1949 (age 69)
Glasgow, Scotland
Spouse(s) Eileen Alison Mackay
Alma mater University of Glasgow
Profession Civil servant

Sir Alastair Muir Russell[1] KCB DL FRSE is a former civil servant and former Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, and Chairman of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland.

Early life[edit]

Russell was born on 9 January 1949 in Glasgow and educated at the High School of Glasgow, which was then the city's grammar school, and at the University of Glasgow, where he took a First in Natural Philosophy.


Civil Service[edit]

He joined the Scottish Office in 1970 and became Secretary of the Scottish Development Agency on its establishment in Glasgow in 1975. He was Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Scotland from 1981 to 1983 and was seconded to the Cabinet Office in 1990. He was appointed Permanent Secretary at The Scottish Office in May 1998, and to the Scottish Executive since its establishment in 1999.

University of Glasgow[edit]

He took office as Principal of the University of Glasgow on 1 October 2003, but attracted much criticism for his handling of the 2006 lecturers' strike, as well as attempts to close the University's Crichton Campus in Dumfries and for receiving pay rises which were much greater than the rate of inflation.[2] He retired in October 2009, and was succeeded by Professor Anton Muscatelli, former Vice-Principal of the University and former Principal of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. On 7 October 2008, Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill announced Sir Muir would succeed Sir Neil McIntosh as Chairman of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland.[3]

Climatic Research Unit investigation[edit]

In December 2009 he was appointed to head an independent investigation[4][5] into allegations concerning the Climatic Research Unit email controversy. The inquiry reported on 7 July 2010, largely clearing the UEA of the allegations. The "rigour and honesty" of the scientists at the Climatic Research Unit were found not to be in doubt. However, the panel also concluded the scientists were insufficiently open about their work and unhelpful and defensive in response to freedom of information requests.[6] Notable scholars and experts, including John Beddington and Myles Allen, welcomed the findings of the inquiry and stated that the climate scientists had been cleared of the allegations of miscondunct,[7] while Patrick Michaels disagreed.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Russell is married to Eileen Mackay, also a former Scottish Office civil servant who left the civil service and became, amongst other interests, a director of the Royal Bank of Scotland.[9] He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2000 and holds honorary degrees from the University of Glasgow, University of Edinburgh and the University of Strathclyde. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2001.[10]


Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Russell Hillhouse
Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Office
Succeeded by
Office abolished
Preceded by
New office
Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Executive
Succeeded by
Sir John Elvidge
Academic offices
Preceded by
Professor Sir Graeme Davies
Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow
2003–October 2009
Succeeded by
Professor Anton Muscatelli