Liddell leaves job to 'reclaim' private life

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Helen Liddell announced yesterday that she had decided to resign from Government after six years because she wanted to "reclaim" her private life and spend more time with her family and friends.

The first woman Secretary of State for Scotland told Tony Blair in her resignation letter that she was proud to have served as a member of the Cabinet. But she revealed that she had spoken to the Prime Minister in January and told him that her "mind was moving on to other things".

The Scottish Office she headed was abolished yesterday, which would have forced Ms Liddell to move ministerial jobs had she remained in Government.

Mr Blair told the retiring minister yesterday that she should be "very proud of the distinguished service" she had given the Government.

The Labour MP for Airdrie and Shotts served previously as Transport minister, Energy minister , a Treasury minister and a Minister of State in the Scottish Office.

Scotland's First Minister, Jack McConnell, thanked Ms Liddell for her work, saying she had "served Scotland well".