TAVISH Scott has announced he is stepping down as an MSP after 20 years in the Scottish Parliament.

The former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader will resign as the Shetland MSP in July. He has been appointed as Scottish Rugby's head of external affairs and will take on his new role in August.

Announcing his decision to stand down, Scott said: "Representing the people of Shetland has been my life for 20 years. It has been an enormous privilege and honour to have been Shetland's MSP since the Scottish Parliament opened in 1999.

"I have always enjoyed the challenge of serving Shetland and it is the part of the job that I will, without doubt, miss the most."

Scott, who served as the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader from 2008 to 2011, added: "There have been many highlights, wonderful moments and intense political drama that I would not have missed for anything.

"I leave the Liberal Democrats at an exciting time in the party's development. There have been excellent recent results in the recent European elections, improved poll ratings and there is genuine optimism about the future for the party.

"So on this, the 20th anniversary week of the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament, it is the right time for me to change direction.

"I am absolutely delighted to be joining Scottish Rugby at this incredibly exciting time for the sport in Scotland and across the world.

"To have the opportunity to work for Scottish Rugby is a huge challenge and one that I cannot wait to begin. I will miss the cut and thrust of politics and the people I have met and represented for 20 years but there can be no better new beginning than working for Scottish Rugby."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said of Scott: "From the day the Scottish Parliament was re-established, he has put the people of his constituency first and campaigned fiercely on their behalf.

"As a huge sports fan, this is an enormous opportunity for him. I will miss having him beside me in parliament but wish him all the best in his new role."

arty with energy and distinction over the past 20 years. I wish him well with what's next."

Mr Scott was first elected to Shetland Islands Council in 1994 and served as a councillor for Lerwick Harbour and Bressay until 1999, when he was elected as Shetland's first MSP, retaining the seat in all four subsequent elections.