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Is Rupert Murdoch is dangling a carrot to Salmond to move BSkyB HQ to Scotland?

By Hamish Mackay

March 6, 2012 | 3 min read

High-profile BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil has claimed that Rupert Murdoch's meeting last week with Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond saw the media mogul promise to move BSkyB's headquarters to Edinburgh if Scotland became independent and reduced corporation taxes.

Neil, a former Sunday Times editor, who now hosts the BBC's Sunday Politics, tweeted that the Scottish First Minister gave him the impression that "Rupert Murdoch dangled moving BSkyB to Edinburgh post-independence".

According to Media Guardian, Neil interviewed Salmond for the programme at the weekend, but said that the politician had made his comments after the cameras had stopped rolling.

Neil later qualified his comment, saying that although there had been talks, there was no deal and he suspected Murdoch was winding up Prime Minister David Cameron.

Murdoch talked to Salmond in Edinburgh last week at a meeting that was described by the Scottish Government as "focused on News Corporation's substantial economic footprint in Scotland" in which the two men "discussed the potential for further investment within the country".

The statement released at the time added: "Mr Murdoch was keen to express his view that the current debate on Scotland's constitutional future continued to make Scotland an attractive place for inward investment."

Media Guardian points out that Kelvin MacKenzie, a former editor of The Sun and confidante of Murdoch, has also said that the official statement did not capture the full significance of the Scottish summit.

Writing in the Daily Mail on Saturday, MacKenzie said: "A little bird tells me Mr Murdoch suggested a referendum winner would be an announcement that corporation tax for firms coming to an independent Scotland would be cut from the UK norm of 26% to between 10% and 15%."

MacKenzie added that if that occurred, Murdoch would act to relocate Sky in the Scottish capital.

However, Media Guardian described Murdoch's investment in Scotland as "modest" with News International staff based in Scotland to produce the Scottish Sun, and BSkyB staff based in Livingstone, Dunfermline and Uddingston.

““BSkyB did not comment on the speculation, but insiders said that the company had no plans to move its corporate headquarters to Edinburgh, not least because there was as yet no independent Scotland," added the paper.

A spokesman for Salmond said that the speculation was exaggerated, citing a statement first released in response to MacKenzie's column in reply to Neil's remarks yesterday.

The official statement said: "The contents of the first minister's conversation with Rupert Murdoch was released to the media shortly after Wednesday's meeting, and it is clear that Mr MacKenzie's colourful account bears little resemblance to the discussions that actually took place."

Image courtesy of Shutterstock Featureflash / ">


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