Salmond releases correspondence with News International

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has released all the correspondence that he had with Rupert Murdoch, following the phone hacking scandal.

Salmond released the 17 page document today, which features letters to and from News International employees and managers such as Rupert Murdoch and David Dinsmore, who was editor of The Scottish Sun at the time.

Before the publication of the letters, Labour had posed 25 questions for the SNP to answer about its relationship with News International.

A spokesman for Mr Salmond said: “The SNP Government has released more information, for a longer time period, than either the UK Government or any other party. And it demonstrates that all of the Scottish Government's meetings with all the media are perfectly proper and reasonable.

“Labour's hypocritical attacks have come totally unstuck.

“As the correspondence shows, our engagement with News International executives has been focused on boosting jobs, investment and economic activity in Scotland. Exactly the same approach as we take towards all employers; quite a contrast with the hypocrisy of Labour, the Tories and Lib Dems.

“Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have all met Rebekah Brooks more often in one year, including at the oyster-and-champagne garden parties, than Alex Salmond has in four years.

“Ed Miliband had four meetings in one year with the News of the World editor, compared to Alex Salmond's one meeting with the Scottish editor in four (years).”

However, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have responded differently to the release.

Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said: “These letters show that the SNP have been extremely willing to cosy up to executives at News International. The blatant sycophantic behaviour laid out for all to see should make the First Minister squirm.

“The crucial letter following the meeting in January does not contain one mention of Alex Salmond quizzing James Murdoch about phone hacking.”

The letter in question from Salmond to James Murdoch, dated 25 January 2011, begins: “Dear James,

“It was a pleasure meeting you in London last week and I would like to thank you for hosting lunch which was most enjoyable. I appreciated the opportunity to meet and thought our conversation on business opportunities for BSkyB in Scotland most useful.

“As we discussed, BSkyB already has a significant presence in Scotland with offices located in Dunfermline, Livingstone and Uddingston. I am proud of the fact that Scotland is an internationally recognised Business Process Outsourcing location. This is in large part due to Scotland's combination of high quality skills and lower overheads, compared to the rest of the UK and Europe.

“I was pleased to hear your comments confirming this view with your observation that Scotland is the 'gold standard' in business outsourcing. I intend for Scotland to continue to capitalise on its strengths in this field.”

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