The 25 questions over the SNP’s Murdoch links

Left Foot Forward has obtained a copy of the 25 questions Scottish Labour has for Alex Salmond and the SNP over their links to News International and Rupert Murdoch.

As MPs today prepare to flex their muscles in the age old “tension” between politics and the media, Left Foot Forward has obtained a copy of the 25 questions Scottish Labour has for Alex Salmond and the SNP over their links to News International and Rupert Murdoch, as reported on Left Foot Forward.

Following the SNP’s failure to answer the questions asked, Scottish Labour’s business manager Paul Martin argued:

“A suspicious number of unanswered questions remain over the SNP’s links with News International.

“If the SNP have nothing to hide then why don’t they come clean and provide answers to each one of Labour’s 25 straightforward questions? If they continue to duck, dive and dodge these simple questions, it will only fuel further suspicions over Alex Salmond’s closeness to Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

“Alex Salmond would clearly rather Scots erased from memory the fact that he personally met with James Murdoch, wined and dined the editor of the Scottish News of the World and provided free articles and advertising to News International newspapers worth thousands of pounds, but the public deserve to know the truth.

“No matter how uncomfortable the truth may be, it is time for answers from the SNP.”

The questions Labour have asked of the SNP are:

1). On what date did Alex Salmond meet with James Murdoch and what matters were discussed?

2). Who instigated the meeting between Alex Salmond and James Murdoch?

3). How many times has Alex Salmond spoken with and met with James Murdoch or other senior News International figures in the last four years?

4). When did Alex Salmond last speak to James Murdoch?

5). When does Alex Salmond next plan to speak to James Murdoch?

6). Other than Alex Salmond, have any other SNP ministers met with senior News International figures? If so, when and what was discussed?

7). Have any civil servants or taxpayer funded advisers met with News International on behalf of the Scottish government? If so, who, when and what matters were discussed?

8). In the interests of public confidence can the Scottish government assure the public that it has carried out an internal review to ensure none of its staff have been involved in phone hacking at any point?

9). What is the SNP’s position on a separate media regulator for Scotland?

10). How much public money have been spent facilitating meetings between Scottish government ministers and News international, such as the dinner Alex Salmond hosted at Bute House with the Scottish editor of the News of the World in March 2009 or the exclusive News International business breakfast in April of this year?

11). How much have the SNP spent on advertising with News International publications in each of the last four years?

12). How much public money have the SNP spent on advertising with News International publications in each of the last four years via the Scottish government? 

13). How many free articles, such as Joan McAlpine’s interview with Sean Connery in the Bahamas, have the SNP provided to News International publications in each of the last four years?   

14). Why did it take four full days and for the News of the World to close down before Alex Salmond (not through a spokesperson) made any official public statement on the phone hacking scandal? (Milly Dowler revelations broke on 4 July yet Alex Salmond did not speak on the issue until 8 July).    

15). Why has Alex Salmond still not respond to Ann McKechin’s [shadow Scottish secretary] letter dated 8 July 2011 to all Scottish political party leaders calling for further action on phone hacking?

(The letter included calls for: assurance that the public inquiries announced by the prime minister are properly resourced, able to take evidence under oath and will start their work immediately; the scrapping and replacement of the Press Complaints Commission and a call to the industry to come up with better self-regulation; suspension of the decision by the Government on the BSkyB deal and referral to the Competition Commission and the removal of Rebekah Brooks as CEO of News International with immediate effect).

16). Given Alex Salmond’s attacks on “successive Westminster governments” for failing to properly regulate the press on how many occasions in each of his four years as First Minister has he raised this with the UK government?

17). What dialogue has the Scottish government had so far with the UK government regarding the inquiry announced by the prime minister into the broader conduct of the press?

18). What dialogue has the Scottish government had with the relevant authorities as to how many Scots have had their phones hacked?

19). Why did Alex Salmond at no point support Ed Miliband’s calls for Rebekah Brooks to resign?

20). Why did Alex Salmond at no point speak out on the BSkyB deal?

21). How many t-shirts depicting The Sun’s front page from the 5 May 2011 has the SNP sold from its online shop?

22). Why did SNP MPs contribute only two sentences in last week’s emergency debate on phone hacking?

23). What contact have SNP MPs had with senior News International figures?

24). Is Alex Salmond worried that he has had his phone hacked?

25). What motivated the SNP to share an office building with News International in Edinburgh?

When the SNP provide answers to these questions, Left Foot Forward will publish them.

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