Independent review for National Trust for Scotland

Charity mired in controversy after asset sales and redundancies

The National Trust for Scotland has announced that a former presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament will lead a "robust and independent" review of the organisation.

The trust has been dogged by controversy over recent months after it closed several of its loss-making properties and announced 65 redundancies amid concerns about its financial viability.

George Reid, a former MP, MSP and presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament, will examine the trust's long-term financial stability and governance.

Reid said he would consult staff, trustees and trust members across Scotland before making his recommendations. He will be supported by a steering group of experts in finance, auditing, heritage and membership organisations, most of whom will be unconnected with the trust. Their identities will be announced at the end of November.

Reid described the measures already carried out by Shonaig Macpherson, chair of the trust, as "tough decisions for tough times" that had helped to stabilise the trust and provide a base from which his review could proceed.

In September, Macpherson announced that she would stand down in September 2010,  but a group of more than 2,500 concerned members of the trust, In Trust for Scotland, has called for her to resign immediately and for the trust's board to stand for re-election. 

A spokesman for In Trust for Scotland welcomed the review.

"This is a breath of fresh air that we have sought for some time," he said. "We have complained about the current management's unwillingness to explain its policies, so we are sure this will give ordinary members an opportunity to express their views on the future of the trust and the properties in its care."

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