First Minister publishes details of media meetings


by G.A.Ponsonby 
Alex Salmond has published details of all media meetings going back to 2007 including correspondence between himself and media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.
The publication follows a pledge by the SNP leader to make available details of meetings going back four years, further than any other political leader.  The publication of letters between Mr Murdoch and Mr Salmond is also a first.

The documents list meetings with all sections of the media including the STV, SKY and the BBC and cover interviews, dinners and formal meetings.

The publication followed claims by several Labour politicians that Mr Salmond may have had something to hide.

However the correspondence reveals that the First Minister used meetings and correspondence in order to promote Scottish interests, including an invitation to Mr Murdoch to “the home of golf” to take in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2014 and a request that the Homecoming celebrations be covered by SKY TV.

Labour leader Iain Gray called Mr Salmond’s behaviour “questionable” and said:

“What is now clear is Alex Salmond has waged a four-year campaign since he became First Minister, to seduce Rupert Murdoch and News International, which has included gifts.

“It has been a top priority and he has spent more of his media time in the last year with News International than any other party leader in Britain.”

Mr Gray also claimed that the Sun newspaper, who switched to the SNP weeks before the Holyrood election, had never supported Labour in Scotland.  However it has emerged that the Sun newspaper has supported Labour in every election in Scotland from 1997 to 2007.

The SNP has described Mr Gray’s remarks as “delusional” pointing out that the First Minister has met News International figures half the number of times of Ed Miliband and a third of those of David Cameron.

SNP MP Stewart Hosie said:

“Iain Gray’s remarks are wrong, delusional and hypocritical – Alex Salmond has only met with News International a third the number of times as David Cameron in the past year, and only half the number of times as Iain Gray’s own leader Ed Miliband.  He has got his figures all wrong.

“And he is denying reality in saying that the Sun did not support Labour in Scotland – it backed Labour in every election from 1997 to 2007.

“The SNP is leading the way with the publication of all correspondence with News International and publication of records stretching back to 2007.

“All other parties must immediately release their correspondence, and the full four years of meetings.

“Anything less than the same transparency from Labour, Tory and Lib Dem would be utterly hypocritical after their ridiculous behaviour in recent weeks.

“At all levels Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems should release their correspondence, a full list of meetings and match the high standards set by the SNP.”

The First Minister described his meetings with members of the media including News International as “perfectly proper and reasonable”.

The documents published on the Scottish government’s website also detail all meetings between other Scottish Ministers and media figures.