CONSERVATIVE peer Lord Blackwell has been appointed as the new chairman of the Scottish Widows group of companies.

The former policy adviser to John Major's government has only recently retired from his non-executive role at Standard Life after a nine-year stint.

The 59-year-old joins the main Lloyds Banking Group board from today and takes up the role at Scottish Widows from September.

The former McKinsey & Co partner is currently chairman of support services and construction firm Interserve, as well as a non-executive director of communications regulator Ofcom and safety equipment business Halma.

He is also a board member at the Centre for Policy Studies think tank.

Sources suggested Lloyds were delighted to attract such a heavy hitter who also had experience of the Scottish financial services and insurance sectors.

Dr Norval Bryson, who has been a non-executive since 2005, becomes deputy chairman at Scottish Widows, having served as interim chairman since Lord Leitch formally stepped down at the end of last year.

Also joining Scottish Widows as a non-executive director is experienced insurer Dr Cees Schrauwers.

The 65-year-old is the chairman of Drive Asset Holdings and was previously a director at Brit Insurance Holdings and managing director of Aviva International.

Lloyds Banking Group is also appointing former BBC and ITV executive Carolyn Fairbairn to its main board as a non-executive director.

The 51-year-old started her career as an economist at the World Bank and has also been a partner at McKinsey & Co.

Sir Winfried Bischoff, chairman of Lloyds Banking Group, said: "Carolyn Fairbairn's background in strategy, public policy and regulation complements that of Lord Blackwell in banking, consulting and insurance.

"Both bring experience in a number of important roles to the deliberations of our board."