SOLICITOR Fergus Ewing snatched victory as the SNP's candidate for Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber in the first elections to the devolved Scottish Parliament in May.
The parliament was created after a referendum on devolution in September 1997 in which more than 74 per cent of those who voted approved the idea.
Following a recount, Mr Ewing emerged with 13,825 votes – a majority of 441 over Labour candidate Joan Aitken. His wife, Margaret, won the neighbouring Moray seat while his mother, Winnie, was successful as a Highlands and Islands list candidate.
Mr Ewing said his top priority was to address the "iniquitous" fuel duty which threatened to cause havoc with the Highland economy.
The first MSP for Ross, Skye and Inverness West was Liberal Democrat John Farquhar Munro with 11,652 votes, beating off a challenge from Labour's Donnie Munro who gained 10,113 votes.
Mr Munro felt that public anger at Labour's refusal to scrap tolls on the Skye Bridge could have helped him beat his hotly-tipped rival.
Following the election to fill 129 seats, the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats formed the Scottish Executive with Donald Dewar becoming First Minister.