Salmond-Murdoch Relationship Comes in for Press Scrutiny

The relationship between First Minister, Alex Salmond, and newspapers boss, Rupert Murdoch, comes in for some scrutiny today in the Scottish press, not least in The Scotsman. Editor, John McLellan, speculating he won't be alone in thinking the relationship “somewhat ironic”.

Writes McLellan, in his weekly Editor's Notebook: “I won't be alone in thinking it is somewhat ironic that just as the Leveson Inquiry is getting into the meat of the relationship between Fleet Street, the government and the public authorities that News Corp emperor, Rupert Murdoch, has been up in Scotland getting even cosier with First Minister Alex Salmond.”

At the weekend, one of Murdoch's titles, the newly-launched The Scottish Sun on Sunday, exclusively revealed the date for the upcoming referendum on Scotland's consitutional future will be October 18 2014.

Then Murdoch visited his Glasgow HQ and met with Salmond.

Then yesterday, at First Minister's Questions, after Salmond assured the referendum date is subject to an ongoing consultation exercise, Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont, said: “For the sake of a front-page splash, the date was leaked before the consultation is completed, before this parliament was told and before the people of Scotland have their say.”

It had McLellan today continuing: “If all is sweetness at The Sun’s Queen Street offices [in Glasgow], then the opposite is very much the case at Central Quay, home of the Daily Record and Sunday Mail.

“Editor-in-chief, Allan Rennie, and his boss, Sly Bailey, are said to have met Mr Salmond with a view to calling off their Nat-mauling hounds and their reward was an exclusive handed to their bitterest rival. Old relationships, it seems, are hard to break.”

And adds The Scotsman's Tom Peterkin, also today: “Mr Salmond entertained Mr Murdoch at a time when he has also been holding meetings with leading executives of Trinity Mirror, the newspaper company that owns the Sunday Mail and the Daily Record – the Scottish tabloid that has traditionally been a loyal Labour supporter.

“The editor-in-chief of the two newspapers, Allan Rennie, and Trinity Mirror chief executive, Sly Bailey, have met Mr Salmond, leading to suggestions that the publishing house will set aside some of its hostility to the SNP.

“A spokesman for the First Minister last month confirmed the meeting, which was held in London around the time Mr Salmond delivered a lecture at the London School of Economics on February 15. But the spokesman said the main topic of discussion was jobs and investment.”

The Scottish Daily Express, meanwhile, begins: “First Minister Alex Salmond was ridiculed yesterday over his choice of new 'best friend', media tycoon, Rupert Murdoch.”

And the Daily Record similarly begins: “Scots Labour leader Johann Lamont tore into Alex Salmond yesterday over his links with shamed media mogul Rupert Murdoch.”