The First Minister, Alex Salmond, and the Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont, have clashed again over the former's relationship with the media mogul, Rupert Murdoch.
Following yesterday's appearance at the Leveson Inquiry into Press Standards, Salmond was pursued by Lamont over his support for a (now dropped) bid by Murdoch's News Corporation to take a controlling interest in satellite broadcasters, BSkyB – he says for jobs, she insinuates for editorial support from The Scottish Sun. She asked: “Can he now confirm how many jobs would have come to Scotland had the Murdochs [Rupert and his son, James] taken over BSkyB and what the civil servants and Scottish Enterprise assessments of the deal were?”
Salmond replied in three parts: “Firstly, the evidence under oath, of course, to the Leveson Inquiry on the 24th of April by James Murdoch… quote: 'I think we have to recall that this merger was about the creation of a pan-European digital television platform with major operations in the United Kingdom, and particularly that meant potentially quite a lot of operations and an increase in operations in Scotland, where technical support, IT, service centres, etc, were located for British Sky Broadcasting as an important employer there.'
“Secondly, we know… BSkyB have 36 per cent of their global employment located in Scotland. At a meeting I had with Mr [James] Murdoch last year, [it was also explained there would be] an increase of 150 jobs in Livingston… announced in March and May of last year…
“And thirdly, and also crucially, there is also the question of the outsourcing jobs… We were in danger last year, because of decisions to move from six to two suppliers, with potentially almost 2,000 jobs at risk in Scotland. Fortunately for Scotland, HERO – with the assistance, incidentally, of Scottish Enterprise – was able to win one of the two contracts and instead of losing jobs we actually gained jobs in Scotland.”
it's not the first time the pair have clashed.
Meanwhile, today's wall-to-wall coverage in the media of Salmond's appearance at Leveson yesterday, includes front page treatment in The Herald and The Scottish Sun (the latter under the heading, ;Posh Paper Hacked Eck'), a column by Iain Macwhirter in The Herald, plus leader columns in, among others, the Daily Record (headed 'Eck just Can't Keep Dodging the Questions'), the Scottish Daily Express (which said the “First Minister charmed them, made them laugh and gave every appearance of being open, honest and forthright while saying, or admitting, very little”) and the Scottish Daily Mail, which described him as a “slippery customer”.
The Leveson Inquiry was set up amid phone hacking allegations against the now closed Murdoch newspaper, the News of the World.