CBI appoints Aitken as new head of Scots operation

Business group the CBI is “making a new start” in Scotland with the appointment of tech industry veteran Hugh Aitken, who replaces its former Scotland director Iain McMillan after 19 years in office.

Hugh Aitken returning to Scotland to take up new role

Aitken, who has returned to Scotland after four years in the United States, formerly headed Sun Microsystems’ operations in Linlithgow. He also chaired lobbying group Electronics Scotland from 2000 to 2006, giving him what CBI director-general John Cridland described as the ideal qualifications to take the group forward.

“With a new policy landscape emerging in Scotland and with elections on the horizon, Hugh joins at a critical time for the Scottish economy, when businesses will be looking for political stability and certainty from government,” said Cridland, who flew up from London to announce Aitken’s appointment yesterday in Glasgow. “I look forward to working closely with him to achieve this.”

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Aitken said his first 90 days in office would be “critical” as the employers’ group prepares for next week’s draft bill based on the Smith Commission report, which will devolve further powers to Scotland in the wake of last year’s independence referendum. He said he will use these first 90 days to meet as many government ministers and CBI members as possible.

“As I get to know the CBI’s varied and vibrant member companies in Scotland and understand the challenges they face, I hope to be able to effectively represent their interests in Holyrood, Westminster and internationally,” he said.

Cridland said the CBI was “making a new start” in Scotland after last year’s botched move to register the group as a No campaigner in the independence referendum.

The CBI was forced to reverse its stance after an estimated 20 organisations – mainly publicly-funded bodies – quit the group as a result.

Shortly thereafter, McMillan announced that he would retire as director of CBI Scotland, though the group denied his departure was linked to the controversy.