Friday, May 4, 2012

#Leveson: The #Murdoch Stench lingers Around Salmond

The bad smell lingering around Scottish first minister Alex Salmond’s relationship with Rupert Murdoch took a new twist yesterday as it emerged the SNP leader did indeed seek discussions with UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt over News Corp’s bid to take over BSkyB.

With the now famous Frédéric Michel emails (pdf) having stated on February 11th 2011 that Salmond would “call Hunt whenever we need him”, it has now transpired Salmond began making such attempts to discuss the bid with Hunt a day after the email dated March 2nd was sent from Michel to James Murdoch confirming the Scottish Sun would be prepared to back the SNP in the Scottish Parliamentary elections.

This is despite Salmond’s continued insistence on BBC Radio Scotland on Monday there was no “quid pro quo” whereby he would support the takeover in return for support for his party in the Holyrood elections and his denial that he acted as an “undercover lobbyist” for the Murdoch’s.

Responding to a written parliamentary question tabled by shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran and published yesterday, Hunt explained in no uncertain terms:
“Mr Salmond’s office contacted mine to request a telephone call on 3 March 2011, and again a number of times in the following days. However, I can confirm that no such call took place or was ever scheduled.”
The development came as a majority report (pdf) from the culture, media and sport select committee declared on page 115:
“Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.”
Furthermore, Labour’s vice chairman on the select committee and one of the most persistent campaigners in exposing the Murdoch empire, Tom Watson, has written to Alex Salmond calling on him to establish an inquiry by the Scottish Parliament into how and why MSPs had their phones hacked. It comes after the Sunday Mail north of the border broke the news that former Labour first minister, Jack McConell, and his children had had their phones more