It was reveled today that Alex Salmond will appear before the Leveson Inquiry as the first minister refused to tell MSPs if he’d been hacked, reports Shamik Das.
Alex Salmond is to face a grilling from Lord Leveson over his links to Rupert Murdoch, it was announced today, as the first minister faced another torrid session of First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, rounded on by Labour, Liberal Democrat and Tory MSPs.
The SNP leader – and long-time Murdoch defender – is likely to be called to give evidence on June 13th, a Scottish government spokeswoman told The Scotsman.
The news came as the clamour grew for Salmond to set up a Scottish phone-hacking probe, with Nick Clegg joining in the chorus today – laying in to the first minister’s “cosy relationship” with Murdoch and his closeness to other right wing billionaires like Donald Trump.
As STV reports, the deputy prime minister said:
“I’m slightly losing count of who Alex Salmond spends his time sucking up to. One moment it’s Rupert Murdoch and then it’s Donald Trump.
“He clearly has a fascination with very wealthy, very powerful men and is happy to trade, basically, with them in order to further his own political ambitions.
“I heard Alex Salmond trying to justify his strategy of ingratiation with Rupert Murdoch on the basis that it was for Scottish jobs. In fact, the only job he had in mind was his own.
“I think it’s time he put the public and the interests of Scotland before his own cosy relationship with Rupert Murdoch.”
• The Murdoch stench lingers around Salmond 2 May 2012
• The 25 questions over the SNP’s Murdoch links 19 Jul 2011
At the Scottish Parliament, meanwhile, Salmond refused to say if his phone had been hacked, as all three opposition leaders turned up the heat over his links to Murdoch.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said:
“This first minister reports to this Parliament – so this is his big opportunity. Dodging the question now only to reveal all when he takes the stand later will look like media manipulation of the very worst kind.
“Was he hacked and didn’t speak out to protect his new best pal – or did Rupert not need to bother tapping his phone, because he was already on speed dial? Parliament is asking, Scotland is watching – first minister were you hacked?”
Joining in, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie added:
“The first minister is responsible to this Parliament – why won’t he tell us whether his phone has been hacked? Despite all the excuses, we’ve heard the first minister manned the barricades to protect Rupert Murdoch from a Scottish inquiry.”
And Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont asked:
“Given the further revelations we have seen in the last few days, why does the first minister still believe Rupert Murdoch is a fit person to run an international media company?”
In sum, Salmond responded by saying Leveson was UK-wide anyway, so why bother having an inquiry; that he’d be “speaking specifically about a range of matters under oath” at Leveson so needn’t bother telling mere MSPs if he’d been hacked; and claimed thousands of jobs were at stake if he slighted Murdoch, almost saying ‘so to Hell with ethics and principle’.
No excuse, it appears, is too small for Wee Eck.