Hugh Aitken confirmed as Scottish director

CBI boss Cridland insists ‘We are not irrelevant in Scotland’

Screenshot 2015-01-16 14.07.24CBI director general John Cridland today defended the organisation against claims that it has become “irrelevant” in Scotland following the debacle last year involving the Electoral Commission.

The organisation was forced into an embarrassing u-turn after registering with the commission as a No supporter in the referendum campaign. Some 20 members resigned and the CBI was subjected to widespread criticism.

Mr Cridland, who was in Glasgow to confirm the appointment of Hugh Aitken as the new director in Scotland, admitted “it was not the CBI’s finest hour”, but he rejected suggestions that it was no longer an important voice north of the border.

“We made an error registering when we should not have done so, and we put it right,” he told a press conference. “I do not accept that it is irrelevant.”

He said the CBI was looking to make “a new start” in Scotland by appointing someone to the role “with exciting prospects”.

Mr Aitken, whose appointment was exclusively revealed by Daily Business on Wednesday, said the organisation had a “fabulous reputation” and he could not wait to get started. “If it was irrelevant I would not be here. I do not do irrelevant stuff,” he said.

He has spent the last few years in California working for Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and running his own consultancy but was looking to return to Scotland where he made his name as head of Sun Microsystems in Linlithgow and as chairman of the industry body Electronics Scotland.

“When this came up it ticked all the boxes for me. I look forward to trying to make a difference,” he said.

He will be looking to arrange a meeting with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as soon as possible.

Mr Cridland and Mr Aitken emphasised the need for the CBI to work with the Scottish government and to deliver the recommendations in the Smith Commission for more devolution.

“It is critical we are joined at the hip,” said Mr Aitken who has previously declared his unionist credentials.

Mr Cridland said the CBI has 1,200 member organisations in Scotland and of the 20 that resigned last year most were in the public sector.

John Howe, chairman of CBI Scotland, said the organisation was in talks with some of those who resigned and who want to renew their membership.



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