Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch visited Alex Salmond in Edinburgh last month

Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA
Labour MP and phone hacking campaigner Tom Watson has accused the Scottish first minister Alex Salmond of being too close to News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch.

Watson, who sits on the culture, media and sport select committee, said it was a "mistake" for Salmond to "cosy up" to Murdoch, who visited Salmond in Edinburgh last month as part of his UK visit to launch the Sun on Sunday.

Watson told the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland: "The one lesson of the hacking scandal is politicians and Rupert Murdoch's executive just got too close. There has to be a distance for the checks and balances of our democracy to work.

"Alex Salmond unfortunately seems to be the only western leader that now wants to cosy up to Rupert Murdoch. I think that's a mistake for him personally but more importantly I think it's probably a mistake for Scotland and the interests of Scottish people because [Murdoch] is too powerful a media mogul and he exerts too powerful an influence over our public institutions."

Salmond replied that he had a "totally professional relationship" with Murdoch, adding: "As soon as I had a meeting with Rupert Murdoch I released publicly that the meeting had taken place. I don't have it in secret like the Labour government used to do. Everything was perfectly proper and above board.

"The Labour position seems to be that it's wrong for me to openly meet News International when they have said that they're going to change their practices, change their ways, but it was okay for them to meet News International when they were fully aware of malpractice and to do it in secret all these years ago."

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