Scottish Tory leader withdraws job offer to ‘adviser’ with ‘bizarre fantasy’ CV | Conservatives

A political adviser about to take up a key role with Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has had his job offer withdrawn after his impressive CV was dismissed as “a bizarre fantasy” by the New Labour figure he claimed was a previous employer.

Craig Paterson was due to start work with Ross next week but, after his track record as a special adviser to former Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy was reported by the Times Scotland on Tuesday, questions swiftly emerged as most of those who had worked in that leadership team struggled to recall his name.

These doubts were confirmed by Murphy himself, who tweeted the Times report, adding: “This story caught my attention. I have never knowingly met this guy let alone employed him in any role, ever. A bizarre fantasy from the Scottish Tories.”

The Guardian understands that the job offer was withdrawn after the allegations were put to Paterson repeatedly during the day. A spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives said: “We will no longer be hiring this person after new information came to light.”

The Guardian attempted to contact Paterson for comment but without success.

Paterson’s biography for a role as communications officer at the Hybrid Classroom at the University of Edinburgh claims that “Craig has over 15 years of experience working in communications & engagement. Beginning his career in the fast-paced world of UK politics before making the transition to the civil service in Scotland”.

Political opponents expressed their bafflement at the error on social media.

Blair MacDougall, who previously worked as director of strategy for Murphy, wrote: “Today I spoke to or texted *everyone* who worked for Jim over the last 25yrs and *nobody* knows this guy – including the staff members who he claims to have worked alongside every day. That Douglas Ross could have been taken in by such an easily verifiable lie is extraordinary.”

The upset comes as Ross struggles to reorganise his team following a series of significant departures, including David Bateman, director of communications, and Harley Lothian, head of digital, who will leave to set up their own digital communications company next month, and his chief of staff, former Australian political adviser, Jon Novakovic.

Ross has also lost his education secretary, Oliver Mundell, who stepped back from the shadow cabinet earlier this month for personal reasons and has just been replaced by chief whip Stephen Kerr.

Scottish Conservatives bore the brunt of public anger at Partygate last May, plunging to their worst electoral result in a decade in the council elections, and Scottish Labour beat them to second place.

During her leadership campaign, Liz Truss prompted anxiety among Tories north of the border with her aggressive stance towards Nicola Sturgeon and the constitution, suggesting that she favours the “muscular unionist” approach advocated by many around Johnson when he first took office. But allies have suggested that she will maintain the more conciliatory approach advocated by Michael Gove, with an emphasis on promoting the union through direct investment.

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