Salmond and Lamont clash over relationship with Rupert Murdoch

WHILE Rupert Murdoch was telling the Leveson Inquiry into Press standards that he wished he had closed – in his capacity as chair of its owners – the News of the World newspaper years before he actually did last year, First Minister, Alex Salmond, and Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont, were clashing at First Minister’s Questions at the Scottish Parliament over relations with the media mogul.

The Leveson Inquiry was set up following the closure, in July, of the News of the World, amid allegations of phone-hacking.

Said Lamont: “There may be three police investigations going on and a judicial inquiry and nearly 50 arrests, but ‘Eck’ still puts the kettle on for Rupert.”

Salmond’s response was to accuse Labour of “humbug and hypocrisy”, as he cited Labour’s shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, writing for The Sun on Sunday, plus Labour leader, Ed Milliband, allegedly “beaming” when he met with Rupert Murdoch. He even brandished a publicity photograph of Milliband reading the paper.

He said: “After this 15 years of worshipping at the feet of Rupert Murdoch from the Labour Party… what the people in Scotland will see when they see Johann Lamont, the Labour Party’s words, and think of, they’ll think of humbug and hypocrisy.”

The clash was preceded by Salmond stating (including on last night’s Scotland Tonight programme on STV) that his motives around any support for BSkyB – which last year was the subject, now dropped, of a bid for outright control by Murdoch’s company – was motivated by trying to protect and create BSkyB jobs in Scotland; in other words, not in return for favourable editorial from The Scottish Sun, as some have accused him.