Nicola Sturgeon should lead cross-party talks on press regulation

Willie Rennie MSP, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has written to Alex Salmond calling on the First Minister to appoint Nicola Sturgeon as the person to lead cross party talks on press regulation.

The Leveson Report was critical of what Mr Salmond was prepared to do on behalf of News Corp. In the end, Mr Salmond’s offer to lobby the UK government on behalf of the Murdochs’ was overtaken by events. However, Lord Justice Leveson concluded that had Mr Salmond followed through on his offer then it would have rendered BskyB decision unlawful.

In light of this, Mr Rennie does not believe the First Minister is the best person to take forward important cross-party discussions on implementing the recommendation in the Leveson Report.

Commenting, Mr Rennie said:

“I am committed to working with others to create the consensus needed to take forward Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations. Victims of the phone hacking scandal have already waited too long for action we must come together to take the necessary steps to implement reform.

“The Leveson Report criticised the First Minister for what he was prepared to do on behalf of News Corps. The fact that Mr Salmond didn’t get the opportunity to lobby Ministers acting in a quasi-judicial role does not change the serious nature of the charge that he was prepared to entice Ministers to act unlawfully.

“Mr Salmond should recognise that the best way of getting reforms to press regulation agreed swiftly is for him to let his deputy lead negotiations.

“Nicola Sturgeon has a track-record of creating the consensus we need. On equal marriage and during the run up to the Edinburgh Agreement, the Deputy First Minister worked well and worked quickly with other parties on issues that were not easy to come to agreement on.

“Everyone wants to put the phone hacking scandal behind us. To allow that to happen and to aid the process of reform the First Minister should recuse himself from the cross-party talks that I look forward to participating in.”