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Chief Executive Retires From Historic Scotland

23 September 2009

John Graham, Chief Executive of Historic Scotland has announced that he will retire at the end of this month.  John has worked with the civil service for 37 years, the last 5 of which have been spent as heading up Historic Scotland - an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment and promoting its understanding and enjoyment on behalf of Scottish Ministers.

Previously John has headed up the former environment and rural affairs department in the Scottish Office, the Finance Group and the Local Government Group.

John Graham, reflecting on his time with Historic Scotland, said “I have had a most enjoyable and rewarding time working with Historic Scotland and its partner organisations.  The agency fulfils an incredibly important role in Scotland and it has been a privilege to work with such dedicated and expert staff.

“I have decided that the time is right to retire and to allow new leadership to consider the challenges facing Historic Scotland and I would wish the agency all the best for the future.”

Ruth Parsons has been appointed as interim Chief Executive and will continue to take forward the work of Historic Scotland.  Arrangements will be made to fill the post on a permanent basis next year and details of how that will be done will be provided in due course.   

Mr Michael Russell, the Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, said:  “I would like to take this opportunity, on the announcement of John’s retirement, to thank him for the significant contribution he has made over the years to public service in Scotland.  I would also offer my personal thanks for the leadership he has shown during his 5 years as Chief Executive of Historic Scotland.

“During that time, Historic Scotland has delivered consistently strong performances. As we embark on a more challenging environment for public services and develop the Government’s strategy for Scotland’s historic and natural heritage, John leaves Historic Scotland at the heart of this landscape, well placed to meet the challenges of the future.

“I look forward to working with Ruth Parsons on the further development of the impressive work that Historic Scotland does.”

David McGibbon, Non-Executive Director at Historic Scotland and Chairman of the Audit Committee added: "I fully endorse the Minister’s comments that under John Graham's leadership, Historic Scotland has consistently delivered strong performances in what are difficult economic circumstances. During his tenure, John introduced the role of Non-Executive Directors to the Agency, an entirely new concept. The Agency now has six independent Non-Executive Directors  on the Board and the fact that the Board functions well as a unit is I believe due in no small measure to John Graham's leadership."

Notes for editors

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations

For further information

Lisa Nicholson
Communications and Media Manager
Communications and Media
0131 668 8852 or 07500 065 438