Party names communications chief

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Conservative Central Office has appointed a former top civil servant to the vital post of director of communications.

Hugh Colver, who was public relations chief at the Ministry of Defence before moving to British Aerospace in 1992, has unusually extensive government experience for a political appointee.

Mr Colver is likely to forge especially close relations between Central Office and Downing Street, where he once worked as a press officer under Sir Bernard Ingham. His predecessor, Tim Collins, is moving to the No 10 policy unit. Mr Colver, 49, is currently acting director of communications for British Aerospace.

what senior Tory sources said would be a "competitive" salary when he takes over from Mr Collins in early May the daunting task of helping to propel the Tories out its current popularity trough.