The campaign for minimum pricing began a decade ago and was led by Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems.

It brought together health experts – psychiatrists, doctors and GPs – to consider ways to tackle Scotland's problem with alcohol.

Evelyn Gillan, who had formerly led the Zero Tolerance campaign on domestic abuse, was appointed as director of SHAAP and she went on to spearhead the drive for minimum pricing in that role.

Loading article content

She died in 2015, aged 55, and at the time of her death, Nicola Sturgeon said the introduction of the policy would be a "fitting legacy to a great woman".

Yesterday, Peter Rice, a consultant psychiatrist and chairman of SHAAP, paid tribute to his former colleague.

He said. "I think she'd have been absolutely delighted. She would have been pleased as it seemed a bit of a long shot. I do wish she was here to see it."

He added: "We needed a director who was going to have the skills, time and space to take it forward, somebody who could take the ideas from the clinical frontline and turn it into policy.

"We knew that cheap alcohol was the problem. Industry said to us that we could not control price, that it was contrary to competition law.

"Evelyn had the time and skills to look into that and found it was not true. Her ability to spend time looking into these questions opened the possibilities for us that otherwise we would not have realised were there."

Dr Rice said that Ms Gillan went on to work with colleagues from the clinical sector to develop the policy and with politicians including Ms Sturgeon, Malcolm Chisholm and Shona Robison.

He said: "We knew that there was going to be a battle from some parts of the industry. The opposition has come from those companies which operate globally.

"We had support from individual pubs and brewers. Evelyn was able to spend time building relationships and exploring attitudes, getting to speak to them, going round pub by pub. That enabled us to understand the dynamics within the industry.

"I'm really pleased it has happened but a little frustrated it has taken so long. To have had five years of legal challenges has been disappointing. The industry had deep pockets."

Ms Gillan went on to work for Alcohol Focus Scotland but remained in close contact with her former colleagues at SHAAP.

Dr Rice said: "It would have been so nice if she had been around to see this happen. It wasn’t to be. I miss her.”

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, tweeted yesterday: "Among the very many people who have played a part in the MUP victory the late Dr Evelyn Gillan stands out.

"Her vision was the catalyst. We miss her personally and professionally and wish she could have seen this day."