Nicola Sturgeon's chief of staff Liz Lloyd has taken a leave of absence to be replaced temporarily by SNP head of policy Colin McAllister.

According to reports in The Scotsman the senior member of staff, who has served in the position since 2014, has left the role for an unspecified moment of time. 

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A spokesperson for the First Minister told The Scotsman: “Liz Lloyd is taking a period of leave following the election. The First Minister has asked Colin McAllister to take on the role as acting Chief of Staff until Ms Lloyd’s return to government.”

When contacted by The Scotsman, Lloyd said she was on holiday. 

Lloyd served as the head of media for the SNP as well as advisers to MSPs Jim Mather and Alyn Smith previously.

She faced calls to resign from opponents over Holyrood committee’s investigation into the botched handling of complaints against Alex Salmond, with the former FM claiming she had shared the name of one of the complainers with his former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein, with claims branded “fundamentally untrue”. 

The news comes as Mike Russell was yesterday appointed as political director at the SNP's independence unit.

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The former MSP is to head up the development of the party’s independence campaign and prepare for a second independence referendum. 

Nicola Sturgeon said on the news: “Delighted that the SNP's National Executive Committee has approved my nomination of Mike Russell as political director of the HQ independence unit. He will oversee the development of the party’s independence campaign, as we look ahead to #indyref2 later in this Parliament."