The Observer accessed my bank account, says Alex Salmond

 

Details of Alex Salmond's bank account were accessed by The Observer in the run up to Scottish elections in 1999, the First Minister claimed yesterday.

Mr Salmond told the Leveson inquiry that a journalist at the newspaper presented him with evidence of purchases made from his account which could have come only from someone who had access to his bank details.

He said among the items he had bought in the run up to the Holyrood elections were some from a store called Fun and Games which the journalist said had caused "great anticipation" on the paper.

"I had bought some toys for my then, at that time, young nieces in a toy shop which was called Fun and Games, and the person who informed me told me that this caused great anticipation and hope in the Observer investigation unit because they believed that perhaps Fun and Games was more than a conventional toy shop," he said.

Mr Salmond said that he had been told that it caused "enormous disappointment" at the newspaper when it turned out that Fun and Games was "just a toy shop".

Guardian News & Media, publisher of The Observer, said that Alex Salmond first raised the subject in a letter written to The Observer's editor in July 2011.

During his evidence to the inquiry Mr Salmond added he had no evidence that his phone had been hacked but said he believed there was a "substantial case" that improper practices were "rife across many newspaper titles". Mr Salmond was pressed on his attitude to newspaper owners, particularly Mr Murdoch, and what exchanges they had on politics – including Scottish independence.

But the SNP leader denied having specific discussions about the independence issue with media moguls.

"I wouldn't explicitly raise it at meetings necessarily because they'd always say 'go to the editors'. That certainly was Rupert Murdoch's practice, and I can't even remember, it may have cropped up in a James Murdoch meeting, but if so, he would say 'go to the editors', and go to the editors I did - as I say, sometimes successfully, sometimes not."

The Sun newspaper famously depicted Scotland in a noose in 2007 in a warning against voting SNP. In the 2007 Scottish election. The paper changed its position to back Mr Salmond for a second term as First Minister in 2011.

Today's witness: Questions PM should face

Why did you appoint Jeremy Hunt rather than Ken Clarke to oversee the BSkyB bid when it was clear that Mr Hunt had firm prior views in favour of the bid?

The Liberal Democrats were in favour of giving the job of deciding on News Corp's bid for BSkyB to the Justice Secretary rather than the Culture Secretary because they felt he was too close to News Corp. Mr Cameron is likely to be closely questioned on the chronology of events, and specifically why Mr Hunt was chosen ahead of Mr Clarke and who made that choice.

What was the extent of your investigation into how much Andy Coulson knew about phone hacking at the News of the World?

This is difficult territory for the Leveson Inquiry as charges are pending against Mr Coulson. However it will be important for Lord Justice Leveson to establish both why Mr Coulson was appointed by Mr Cameron in the first place and what due diligence he did when it became apparent that the extent of phone hacking at the News of the World was far greater than previously thought.

Did Rupert Murdoch ever try to influence Conservative Party policy, either before or after the last election?

John Major, in his evidence, suggested that Mr Murdoch made a direct link between support for the Tories and the party's position on Europe. The inquiry will want to establish whether similar conversations took place with the current Government.

Oliver Wright

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future