Jeremy Hunt wasn’t the only political cheerleader News Corporation enjoyed the services of. The full emails of the company’s public affairs director Frederic Michel, now available on the Leveson inquiry website, reveal the extraordinary lengths that Alex Salmond went to to support the BSkyB bid. According to Michel, the Scottish First Minister offered to lobby both Vince Cable and Jeremy Hunt on the company’s behalf and to brief the Scottish press on the “economic importance” of News Corp for the country. All of which goes some way to explaining Rupert Murdoch’s recent description of Salmond as the “most brilliant politician in U.K.”.
Below are the full, damning emails.
On 1 November 2010, Michel told James Murdoch:
Alex Salmond is very keen to put these issues across to Cable and have a call with you tomorrow or Wednesday. His team will also brief the Scottish press on the economic importance of News Corp for Scotland.
Following a conversation with Rupert Harrison, George Osborne’s special adviser, on 9 November 2010, Michel reported to Murdoch:
He (Harrison) was very much taken by our commitment to Scotland and Alex Salmond’s desire to support us. He thought it was a strong ally to put forward, very contrarian/unexpected.
On 11 February 2011, Michel told James Murdoch:
I met with Alex Salmond’s adviser today. He will call Hunt whenever we need him to.
Finally, on 2 March 2011, Michel wrote to Murdoch:
Alex Salmond called. He had a very good dinner with the Editor of Sun in Scotland yesterday.
The Sun is now keen to back the SNP at the election. The Editor will make his pitch to the Editorial team tomorrow.
On the Sky bid, he will make himself available to support the debate if consultation is launched (emphasis mine).