Scotland politics

Leveson: Scottish political leaders row over how to regulate press

Opposition leaders at Holyrood have questioned the first minister's view that a Scottish solution to press regulation was the best way forward.

Alex Salmond said there should be self-regulation underpinned by Scots law.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said a UK-wide approach should not be ruled out.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie added that a Scots regulator was possible, but alongside a UK plan.

The views were aired during a debate in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament.

It was scheduled following publication of the findings of the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics.

Mr Salmond told MSPs that Strathclyde Police had details of 26 potential victims of phone hacking following the News of the World scandal into the practice and 180 potential victims of illegal data access.

The first minister said the Irish Press Council model could be adapted for Scotland.

He added that the Leveson implementation group would feature a senior legal figure, like a current or past Court of Session judge.

Speaking during the debate Mr Salmond said: "Given that press regulation is the responsibility of this parliament, that there have been victims of press malpractice in Scotland and that there is a separate legal framework which operates in Scotland, then Lord Justice Leveson's view set out in the first paragraph of his report is surely inarguable - that we require to make in Scotland, using the expertise that we have in Scots law, a significant response to his report recommendations.

"The recommendations require serious distinctive consideration within Scotland. They cannot just be left to Westminster."

Ms Lamont told Holyrood that political differences were "not insurmountable" and agreement could be found on a way forward.

However, she added that Mr Salmond "should rule nothing out" on the issue of a UK-wide solution.

Ms Davidson said Prime Minister David Cameron had already sent a strong message to newspaper editors to take action.

On Thursday, the first minister will hold cross-party talks with opposition leaders on possible press regulation.

During his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, Mr Salmond was quizzed about his contact with media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and his willingness to lobby the former culture minister Jeremy Hunt over the planned BSkyB takeover by Mr Murdoch's News Corporation.

In his report, Lord Justice Leveson concluded Mr Salmond could not be criticised for his role in lobbying for the takeover.

However, the judge's report said that, had the first minister been successful in persuading UK ministers, his actions would have rendered any final deal "unlawful".

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