LORD Robertson of Port Ellen, the former NATO Secretary General and Defence Secretary in Tony Blair’s Government, is the new chairman of Western Ferries.

The Labour Party stalwart, who has been on the board at Western since 2006, replaces Alistair Ross.

Mr Ross retired on Friday after serving as chairman of the firm, which runs the Dunoon to Gourock vehicle and passenger service, since 2002.

Lord Robertson said: "Having attended Dunoon Grammar School and spent my formative years in the town, I am well aware that the whole area has benefited from a reliable, dawn-to-dusk, roll-on roll-off ferry service.

“Thirteen years ago, I agreed to serve on the board of Western Ferries as part of my long-standing commitment to the town and this vital link across the Firth of Clyde. That commitment to the principle of regular and frequent ferry links in Scotland is now reinforced as I become chair of the board of this successful company.”

Gordon Ross, managing director of Western, declared that the appointment of Lord Robertson as chairman was a “huge coup” for the firm.

He said: "As one of the outstanding politicians and leaders of his generation, he will be a huge asset to the company."

Western announced that David Harris, a non-executive director at the firm for the last 21 years, has also stepped down from the board.