JACKSON Carlaw has put a former Michael Gove aide and private healthcare spindoctor in charge of overhauling his party’s policies for the Holyrood election.

The Scottish Tory leader has promoted Gordon Hector to be his new director of strategy.

Previously the party's director of research, Mr Hector was also head of communications for Circle Healthcare, the first private firm to run an NHS hospital.

He was a speechwriter for Mr Gove in 2013 and 2014 when he was Education Secretary.

At the time, Mr Gove was pushing the free-market into schools south of the border with the help of his controversial adviser Dominic Cummings, who now works in Number 10.

The SNP said Mr Hector’s promotion showed the Scottish Tories would not be changing their spots on privatisation, despite Mr Carlaw promising a new look party in 2021.

After being elected leader last week by a three-to-one margin over rival Michelle Ballantyne, Mr Carlaw said he wanted an urgent review of all Tory policies by Easter.

He hinted the party was likely to drop its previous support for university tuition fees and the two-child benefit cap which gives rise to the so-called ‘rape clause’.

Mr Hector is to have a key role in the review alongside MSP Adam Tomkins, who was made shadow secretary for strategy in a shadow cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday.

The first policy away day is due to take place on Monday.

In 2012, Circle landed a 10-year contract to take over struggling Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridge, which had 250 beds, 1,500 staff and a £111 million budget.

Three years later, the Care Quality Commission branded the hospital "inadequate" and it was put into special measures.

Circle pulled out of the deal early admitting it could not find the savings needed to make the hospital financially sustainable.

Mr Hector, who was educated at £13,000-a-year George Heriot's school in Edinburgh and has a first in modern history from Oxford, worked for Circle during the Hinchingbrooke failure.

He joined the firm in mid-2014 before moving to the Scottish Tories in 2016. 

The House of Commons Public Audit Committee later reported oversight of the contract had been "poor and inadequate", leaving the taxpayer exposed, and said the projected savings in Circle's bid to run Hinchingbrooke were "overly optimistic and unachievable".

Before working for Mr Gove, Mr Hector was public affairs manager for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and worked for the London PR and lobbying firm Fishburn Hedges

An SNP spokesperson said: "This may set alarm bells ringing. We have already witnessed what the Tory Government in Westminster is doing to the NHS in England which has seen strikes by junior doctors and deficits.

“This sends a signal that their privatisation agenda may not be far behind."

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “Gordon has a wide range of experience including a spell at the Joseph Rowntree foundation, a charity working on poverty, housing and education. If the SNP are really worried about the NHS, perhaps they should spend a bit more time fixing their own mess, and a little less on daft attacks like this.”