Neil is currently Managing Editor, BBC Online, and previously held roles on The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian.
He spent his early journalistic career on The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News.
Neil, who was born in Glasgow and lives in Edinburgh, takes charge of The Scotsman with the brief to expand its coverage in politics and opinion, business, the environment and education, the arts and Scottish lifestyle, in particular health and sport.
JPI Media, formerly Johnston Press, was founded with the Falkirk Herald in 1845, and believes in the independence of its editors who, first and foremost, are tasked with serving their communities. In consultation with Neil individual editors will be appointed for each of The Scotsman’s sister papers, Edinburgh Evening News and Scotland on Sunday.
Each title will have a distinct personality reflecting the different audiences served.
David Montgomery, chairman of National World Plc, owner of JPI Media, said: "As a public company with media franchises across the nations and regions of the UK we have introduced a localisation strategy that devolves responsibility to our individual franchises.
"Our Scottish newspapers, with The Scotsman as the flagship title, will support their communities by publishing reliable journalism produced by knowledgeable writers who live locally. The editors are asked to provide leadership in holding our democratic institutions to account and advancing the economic interests of each community.
“Neil will provide that leadership and the highest standard of reporting for The Scotsman at this important time.”
Neil, who began as a sub-editor on the Edinburgh Evening News and later wrote a column about the Internet for The Scotsman, said: "I'm delighted to be joining The Scotsman as its editor, and look forward to leading the paper and its sister titles through momentous times for Scotland, and our industry.
"I've been impressed by David's vision and ambition for The Scotsman, Edinburgh Evening News and Scotland on Sunday. Under National World's ownership there's a brilliant opportunity to build The Scotsman's position as Scotland's National Newspaper, and develop unmissable journalism that gets to the heart of the country, and the communities within it.
"The strength and dedication of the newsroom has been evident through the last very difficult year. I'm looking forward to working with the team to build on the titles' strengths online, and in print".