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LOVE RAT NAT; SNP's Russell walks out on wife for affair with his researcher.


A FORMER MSP has split from his wife after starting an affair with his researcher.

Leading Scottish Nationalist Mike Russell, 49, walked out on wife Cathleen just three weeks after losing his seat in the Scottish Parliament.

The former South of Scotland list MSP left the Argyll home he shared with Cathleen and their 15- year-old son and moved into his rented Edinburgh flat.

Their 23-year marriage collapsed after Russell began a relationship with Eilidh Bateman, his researcher, last year.

He has not moved in with her, pals stressed last night.

Just two weeks ago, Russell had claimed to be delighted at having the chance to spend more time with his wife and child.

In a first-person article in a Sunday newspaper, he gave a vision of the domestic bliss which awaited him after the voters dumped him from the Parliament.

Highlighting the benefits, he wrote: "Beginning to get to know my wife and son again after more than eight years living mostly away from home."

But last night, Russell said: "I want to confirm that I have separated from my wife.

"I would ask everyone to respect the privacy of my wife and son and not intrude at this very difficult time.

"I shall be saying nothing further on this matter."

Bateman worked as a researcher for Russell and another SNP MSP, Irene McGugan.

She is the daughter of BBC news presenter Derek Bateman.

A friend of Russell's said: "Since the election, Mike has reassessed a lot of his life and realised things were leading elsewhere.

"Nothing happened before the election. But obviously he and Eilidh have been friends for quite some time."

The friend added: "It is terribly sad Mike and his wife have split up.

"But perhaps they have been growing apart for some time."

Until last month, Russell was the SNP's education and culture spokesman.

He has been based in Edinburgh for the last seven years while his family stayed in Argyll.

As a young man, Russell trained as an Episcopalian priest.

He later became a major figure in broadcasting and was a prime mover in the Celtic Film and TV festival.

Russell was regarded as one of the parliament's most talented politicians.

But he lost his seat on May 1 after grassroots SNP members dumped him down the party's top- up list.

A pal added: "He is still thinking about what he is going to do next.

"He has had a few offers but is not going to jump at the first thing that comes along."
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 26, 2003
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