Having worked as a journalist for almost 30 years, Russell Findlay decided to get into politics and was elected as a new Scottish Conservative MSP for West Scotland in 2021.
His main motivation is to help improve the lives of Scots and to champion the clear benefits of Scotland’s key role in the United Kingdom.
Throughout his media career, Russell worked for newspapers including the Sunday Mail and Scottish Sun and broadcasters STV and BBC, specialising in investigative journalism.
His work included analysis into the scale and reach of organised crime in Scotland, its overseas connections, and broader problems within the justice system. He conducted investigations into unsolved murders, judicial complaints, miscarriages of justice, paedophile networks and police failures, including why it took decades to bring serial killer Angus Sinclair to justice.
Others works has included shining a spotlight on the so-called ‘security wars’ that blighted Glasgow in the 2000s, proceeds of crime shortcomings and the abuse of bankruptcy laws by wealthy criminals.
In 2008 Russell co-authored a book about a prominent Scottish drug dealer and went on to write three other non-fiction titles published by Edinburgh-based Birlinn. One of these was Caught in the Crossfire about a long-running drugs war that continues to blight communities across Scotland and has seeped into policing and politics.
Russell was targeted in an acid attack on the doorstep of his own home in Glasgow days before Christmas 2015. The hitman, a violent career criminal once acquitted of murder, was detained at the scene and jailed. While Russell made a full recovery, and wrote a book about his ordeal, those who ordered the attack have not been brought to justice.
In 2017, while working as a freelance journalist, Russell secured exclusive newspaper and a BBC broadcast interviews with the carers of missing Inverkip woman Margaret Fleming. These interviews were then used by Police Scotland and Crown Office prosecutors to secure the carers’ conviction for Margaret’s murder, although her body has never been found. As an MSP he backs his party’s proposed Suzanne’s Law, which would put pressure on killers to reveal the whereabouts of their victims’ remains.
In 2020, after deciding to seek to become a parliamentary candidate, Russell joined the Scottish Conservatives as director of communications. Having spent decades unseen due to the nature of his journalism, he is still getting used to being in the public eye.
Since being elected to Holyrood, Russell has continued to campaign on justice issues while assisting constituents on a broad range of problems. One notable success was his campaign on behalf of prison officers to stop drug-soaked mail from entering prisons. The SNP government finally agreed to photocopy prisoners' mail after a mass overdose at a high security prison. This measure has led to a significant reduction in drugs incidents and overdoses.
He has also been a prominent critic of the SNP's Gender Recognition Reform Bill, lodging numerous amendments designed to prevent exploitation of gender self-ID by sex offenders.
Russell is deputy convenor of the parliament’s criminal justice committee and shadow cabinet secretary for justice.