FIRST Minister, Alex Salmond, is reportedly to appear at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, where he can expect to be asked about the extent of his support of a bid for satellite broadcaster, BSkyB, by News Corporation in return for favourable editorial in the News Corp-owned The Scottish Sun newspaper ahead of last year’s Scottish Parliament elections.
Says The Herald, the invitation to Leveson was admitted last night by the Scottish Government. It follows testimony given yesterday to Leveson by James Murdoch, former chair of BSkyB and currently deputy chief operating officer at News Corp.
The Leveson Inquiry was set up following the closure of the News Corp-owned News of the World in July, amid allegations of phone hacking. And the result of Murdoch’s testimony was Salmond and Westminster Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, together sharing today’s newspaper front pages on what, if any role, they had during News Corp’s bid for a controlling interest in BSkyB.
Hunt was last night facing calls for him to resign following questions about the extent of his impartiality, given his key deciding role on the future of BSkyB.
The Herald gives over its front page, plus pages 4 and 5 and also its leader column, to Salmond.
The Scottish Daily Express also devotes its whole front page to Salmond, picturing him with Murdoch’s father, who is scheduled to give evidence to Leveson today. Meanwhile, the Daily Record has Salmond in a side panel on its front page.
The Scottish Daily Mail and The Scotsman both home in on Hunt. The Guardian concentrates also on Hunt.
The Scottish Sun carries the Salmond story on its page nine.
Salmond was the topic of a report and debate on Newsnight Scotland last night, which shows a clip of James Murdoch telling Leveson “categorically” as false that there was any quid pro quo between support for the bid and favourable coverage in The Scottish Sun. And Salmond tells BBC Scotland political editor, Brian Taylor, “there couldn’t be a quid pro quo because we have no determination over the ownership of BSkyB”.
Soon after the News of the World was closed, News Corporation’s bid for a controlling interest in BSkyB was dropped.