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THERE are not one but two McCrone Reports, the second one being the professor’s investigation into teachers’ pay and conditions instigated by then First Minister Donald Dewar in 1999.

It is his original McCrone Report, however, which we examine today, and the man behind it was the perfect choice to write it in the dying days of Edward Heath’s Conservative Government, because McCrone was the best expert in the civil service on the issues of Scotland’s political economy.

READ MORE: What to expect from The National's McCrone report series

He had proven that assertion a whole decade earlier, before he even joined the civil service and when he was just 30, by writing the definitive work on Scotland’s Natural Resources, published in the Scottish Journal of Political Economy in February 1964.

Born in Ayr in 1933, Robert Gavin Loudon McCrone gained his degree at Cambridge University before studying for his masters in economics at the University College of Wales, in Aberystwyth. He later achieved a PhD and Honorary LLD at Glasgow University.

It was at the same university that he became an economics lecturer before he joined the civil service as an adviser, firstly to the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs. At the time the Scottish Office did not even have a separate economics department, but McCrone was asked to head it up from 1970.

His value and integrity as a civil servant was displayed by the fact that Conservative and Labour governments used his talents.

For more than two decades he was chief economic adviser to successive secretaries of state for Scotland. He also became head of two Scottish Government departments within the Scottish Office – the Industry Department for Scotland and the Scottish Development Department.

On leaving the civil service in 1992, he became Professor of Applied Economics at Glasgow University and later a visiting professor at Edinburgh.

He has lectured and written extensively on economics as well as housing and industrial matters and prior to the independence referendum in 2014 he published the well-received Scottish Independence: Weighing up the Economics, which, as ever with his work, was well-written and impartial.

It didn’t please everybody, but it was typical McCrone – honest and forensic in its detail, just like his work on Scotland’s oil.