RICHARD Leonard’s chief spindoctor has quit after less than six months in the job, deepening the sense of crisis around the Scottish Labour leader.

Charlie Mann, who managed four years working for the controversial former Hearts FC owner Vladimir Romanov, said he realised working for Scottish Labour was “not for me”.

Mr Mann’s appointment as chief of communications in April was a key decision for Mr Leonard, and his departure will reflect badly on the Labour leader’s judgment.

Mr Mann, 58, had been absent from Holyrood for several weeks, fuelling speculation about his future, but recently insisted to the Herald he would return to his post.

His exit also adds to the expectation of a Scottish Labour reshuffle.

He said: "Having joined the Scottish Labour Party as Head of Communications, after a career spent working in public relations and broadcasting, I have decided the role is not for me.

“I will be looking to return to my previous role and would like to thank the Labour Party for having given me the opportunity.”

Mr Mann’s departure adds to an already dire week for Mr Leonard, who is facing criticism from his own MSPs over his handling of a legal case involving Kezia Dugdale.

Many MSPs feel he fas failed to stand up to Labour HQ in London after it cut off funding for Ms Dugdale’s defence of a defamation action brought by a Nationalist blogger.

At First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon also taunted Mr Leonard by reading out a quote from a party insider saying he had no authority over his Holyrood group.

A Labour spokesperson added: “Charlie Mann has resigned his position as Head of Communications with Scottish Labour. Charlie leaves with our good wishes for the future.”