Scotland politics

Salmond claims papers broke privacy laws before

Alex Salmond
Image caption Alex Salmond said newspapers have previously broken data protection laws

The Scottish government is to urge the public inquiry into phone hacking and media regulation to consider a 2006 report on privacy laws being broken.

The first minister highlighted the Operation Motorman report after he was asked by UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to comment on the inquiry's remit.

Alex Salmond said the study revealed about 3,000 cases of various newspapers breaking data protection laws.

He added that questions remained over why no action was taken then.

The Information Commissioner's report exposed an extensive illegal trade in confidential personal information and made recommendations to government and industry.

Mr Salmond said: "We will submit the Scottish government's full response to the UK government's draft terms of reference on Monday, and trust that it will secure a positive response so that the inquiry can be comprehensive and thorough in the public interest."

Prime Minister David Cameron has asked Lord Justice Leveson to oversee the public inquiry after a phone-hacking scandal, led to the closure of the UK's biggest-selling newspaper, the News of the World.

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour claimed there were unanswered questions over the SNP's links with News International - the newspaper's owner.

The party published a list of 25 questions, including asking when the first minister last met with News International chairman James Murdoch, as well as how much the SNP has spent on advertising with the company in the past four years.

Scottish Labour's business manager Paul Martin said: "Throughout the entire phone hacking scandal Alex Salmond has ditched his usual megaphone diplomacy and has been uncharacteristically silent.

"Alex Salmond has desperately attempted to come across as whiter than white by keeping schtum and resorting to his default position of blaming Westminster.

"He would clearly rather we all ignored the fact that he personally met with James Murdoch, wined and dined the editor of the Scottish News of the World and provided free articles and advertising to News International newspapers worth thousands of pounds."

He called on Alex Salmond to speak out and convince the public there had been "no quid pro quo for Rupert Murdoch's support of the SNP".

'Embarrassing nonsense'

The SNP condemned Labour's attack.

A party spokesman said: "This is embarrassing nonsense from Paul Martin - he obviously doesn't let the facts get in the way of a bad press release.

"For example, the first minister was on record at a press conference last week calling on Rebekah Brooks to step down, and also gave numerous broadcast interviews supporting the Commons motion - of which the SNP was a co-sponsor - calling on News Corp's BSkyB bid to be withdrawn.

"Instead of engaging in smear, the key question Paul Martin has to answer is why the last Labour government did precisely nothing about the Operation Motorman report published by the Information Commissioner in 2006, revealing over 3,000 cases of a range of newspapers breaking data protection laws."

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