Alex Salmond defends links to Rupert Murdoch

 

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond described his relationship with Rupert Murdoch as "good and business-like" today as he fended off Labour criticism of his links to the media magnate.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has described Mr Salmond as an "undercover lobbyist" for Mr Murdoch after the Leveson Inquiry heard that News Corporation thought the SNP leader would intervene on behalf of the company's BSkyB takeover bid.

News Corporation's director of public affairs Frederic Michel emailed James Murdoch suggesting Mr Salmond was prepared to lobby Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt on the issue.

Asked about his relationship with Mr Murdoch, Mr Salmond told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think Rupert Murdoch is one of the most substantial figures in journalism for the last 50 years so it would strike me as important to have a good and business-like relationship with him.

"He also, in BSkyB at least, employs 6,200 in Scotland.

"I want to have a good and professional relationship, I think that's the best way to describe it."

On Mr Miliband, he added: "This is a guy who last July was having champagne and canapes at a News International reception but now thinks people will forget all of Labour's previous associations."

Mr Salmond has previously insisted his interest in the deal was linked to employment.

But Mr Miliband, who was campaigning with his party in Glasgow yesterday, said: "If he had nothing to hide, why did he hide it?

"What he actually did was, acted as an undercover lobbyist for Rupert Murdoch.

"I don't think that's what people expect of the First Minister of Scotland.

"I think they want a First Minister who will stand up for ordinary people in Scotland, not the rich and powerful."

Labour MSP David Stewart said: "After his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, struggled to defend him on BBC Scotland yesterday, Alex Salmond did little better today.

"Crucially, yet again he failed to say how many jobs Scotland was supposed to get if the Murdochs took complete ownership of BSkyB."

PA

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