Robert was born in Newcastle-upon Tyne and brought up in Aberdeenshire. He went to the local village school and then secondary school at the Gordon Schools in Huntly where he also became a Queen’s Scout.
He obtained first class honours in law from Aberdeen University.
After a spell as Procurator Fiscal Depute in Dumbarton, he spent his legal career with Ross Harper & Murphy, Solicitors, Glasgow, latterly as senior civil partner, specialising in matrimonial law, reparation claims and medical negligence.
Robert has a famous ancestor – his great, great, great grandfather was the boxer Tom Sayers, who became champion of England in the prize fighting days of the mid 19th century – and once fought with a broken arm.
Perhaps this is where Robert’s determination and commitment came from!
Robert became a Liberal at University, inspired both by the principled ideas and distinguished history of the Party, and by its representatives, such as James Davidson, then MP for West Aberdeenshire, David Steel and Russell Johnston.
Robert had an unusually successful career as a Liberal – as an effective and successful President of Aberdeen University Liberal Society, as the first Liberal elected in Glasgow since the war – with 5 successful Council campaigns over the years – and as Liberal Democrat MSP for Glasgow Region when the Scottish Parliament was established.
In 2005, he became Deputy Minister for Education and Young People.
Robert is widely regarded as an effective local campaigner, a principled Liberal Democrat thinker, writer and speaker who, as Scottish Policy Convener, was in charge of a number of Scottish Liberal Democrat manifestos, and a champion of key causes – particularly human rights, opportunities for the visually impaired and for looked after children.
He is a strong supporter of the rights of local communities, not least in his home in Rutherglen.
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