A former communications director at a transport quango which was at the centre of an expenses scandal has been named as Glasgow City Council leader Frank McAveety’s senior special adviser.

Bob Wylie was in charge of public relations at Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) when it emerged in 2010 that officials had clawed back more than £100,000 and gone on foreign fact-finding trips to China, India, Italy, America, Singapore, Russia, Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic.

He later handed back expenses racked up during a junket to Manchester on the day Rangers played in the 2008 UEFA Cup final.

Wylie left his post at SPT during a subsequent management restructuring which also saw SPT’s three most senior staff - chairman, vice chair and chief executive – step down.

He went on to work for social enterprise The Wise Group before setting up his own PR firm, Communication Strategies Ltd.

Wylie still has an office at The Wise Group’s premises in Glasgow’s east end and lists the social enterprise’s phone number as the contact on his company’s website.

A former journalist, he describes his remit during more than a decade at the BBC as “hot shot crime correspondent and intrepid story breaker” on his publicly available online CV.

Prior to that he was an organiser for Labour Party faction Militant who were described as “out-placed, outdated, irrelevant” by former leader Neil Kinnock in a speech to his party’s conference in 1985.

Kinnock was heckled by Deputy Leader of Liverpool City Council Derek Hatton who later appeared at a rally in Glasgow organised by Wylie.

Wylie was criticised in 1986 by Glasgow MP Michael Martin – who stepped down as Speaker of the House of Commons amid the MPs’ expenses scandal – for holding views which he said were “incompatible with democratic socialism”.

He will now be paid more than £48,000 a year to provide “strategic support and policy advice” to McAveety and oversee a team of four advisers.

A council spokesman was keen to stress that Wylie was not handpicked by McAveety, who began his second stint as council leader in September.

“The advisers are not appointed by the leader of the council – selection was conducted by the Executive Director of Corporate Services and the Head of Corporate Human Resources,” said the spokesman.

“He will manage the existing team of advisers – there are no vacancies. The senior adviser is a well-established post within the council, heading up a small team of four in the leader’s office.

“They are responsible for providing strategic support and policy advice to the leader – preparing briefings, reports and analysis.

“The position was openly advertised and a number of candidates were interviewed by the Executive Director of Corporate Services and the Head of HR, who felt Mr Wylie was the best person for the job.

“The role is at Grade 9 in the council’s pay and grading structure. The salary for that grade starts at £48,576.75.”

The spokesman added: “Mr Wylie is directly employed by the council and is not a consultant.”

McAveety, who was previously leader of the council from 1997 to 1999 before serving two terms as a Glasgow MSP, was sharply criticised by SNP following the appointment of Wylie.

An SNP source said: “I can't imagine what Wylie offers McAveety other than controversy and links to past scandals.

“This is a disastrous start for the new council leader. Given McAveety had to resign twice himself you would think the last thing he would do is appoint a special adviser who was knee deep in the same mess.”

McAveety lost his job as minister for tourism, culture and sport in 2004 over a row which became known as ‘porky pie-gate’ after he claimed he was late to the chamber because he was “unavoidably detained” at a book awards ceremony when in fact he was eating pie, beans and chips in the parliament canteen.

In 2010 he resigned as convenor of the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee after being overheard making comments about the physical appearance of a female member of the audience.

The SNP source added: “This isn't so much a fresh start as a return to the worst excesses of Labour in Glasgow.”

Speaking yesterday morning, Wylie said: “It’s signed, sealed and delivered – I’m just about to walk into the leader’s office now.”

He declined to offer further comment on his appointment.

Councillor Matt Kerr, the local authority’s Executive Member for Personnel, defended Wylie.

He said: “Bob knows mistakes were made at SPT and he paid a heavy price for them - but he also publicly apologised a long time ago. He did the right thing and he’s entitled to move on.

“More importantly, Bob will do a good job for the council. He knows what he’s doing and he’ll work hard.”