Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson has been given a major role in Nicola Sturgeon’s first Cabinet.
The father-of-three has been handed the post of Cabinet Secretary for Justice in the First Minister’s government.
He steps up from his previous role as Minister for Public Health and his appointment is seen as a major vote of confidence in his political abilities.
The 44-year-old takes over from Kenny MacAskill who, along with Mike Russell, stood down from a ministerial role prior to the shake-up.
Mr Matheson’s portfolio includes the police, criminal law and procedure, the legal profession, criminal justice social work, fire and rescue services, violence reduction and drugs policy.
After unveiling her new Cabinet, which has a 50-50 gender split, the First Minister said: “This new Cabinet is a team of all the talents, which will take forward this Government’s priorities for Scotland.
“Every member of the Cabinet is part of the Government’s top team on merit, on the basis of the excellent work they have already done as Ministers.”
Following the announcement, Mr Matheson said: “I am delighted to have been appointed by the First Minister as the Cabinet Secretary for Justice.
“I very much enjoyed my time as the Minister for Public Health, however, I am looking forward to the new challenge.
“It is a tremendous privilege to be able to serve in government and I look forward to meeting these new challenges in my new role as Cabinet Secretary for Justice.”
A former occupational therapist in the NHS, Mr Matheson first stood for the SNP in 1997 standing for the Hamilton North and Bellshill seat and in 1999 and 2003 contested Falkirk West. From May 1999 to May 2007 he was a list MSP for Central Scotland and has represented Falkirk West for the last seven years.
He was the Shadow Deputy Minister for Justice from 1999 until September 2004 when he was appointed Shadow Minister for Culture and Sport.
Mr Matheson served on the Parliament’s Justice One committee from January 2000 until October 2004 and on the Enterprise and Cultural committee. Since 2007 he has served on the Health and Sport Committee.
Away from politics, Mr Matheson enjoys sport and is a member of the Ochils mountain rescue team.
Among the messages of congratulations was one from neighbouring Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald.