The most notable moment in Alex Salmond’s testimony to the Leveson inquiry was his allegation that the Observer illegally accessed his bank account. Asked by Robert Jay QC if his phone had ever been hacked he replied:
What I can say is that I believe that my bank account was accessed by the Observer newspaper in 1999.
My reason for believing that is I was informed by a former Observer journalist who gave me a fairly exact account of what was in my bank account that could only have been known to somebody who had seen it.
Salmond, who at the time was both SNP leader and an MP, went on:
For example I bought some toys for my then young nieces in a toy shop in Linlithgow High Street which was called ‘Fun and Games’.
The person who informed me told me this caused great anticipation and hope in the Observer investigation unit because they believed that perhaps ‘Fun and Games’ was more than a conventional toy shop.
Guardian News and Media, the Observer’s parent company, has issued a swift rebuttal, revealing that Salmond first raised the matter with the paper’s editor last year. A spokesman said:
As we explained to him (Mr Salmond) last year, on the basis of the information he had given us, we have been unable to find any evidence to substantiate his allegation.
As our response to him at the time made clear, we take this allegation very seriously and if he is able to provide us with any more information we will investigate further.
That may be so but it’s likely that every paper in the land will be approaching Salmond for “more information”. Much of Fleet Street would like nothing better than a chance to assail the saintly Guardian Media Group for hypocrisy.