Alex Salmond proposes separate Press regulation for Scotland regardless of Westminster’s decision over Leveson’s reportScotland's first minister wants to mirror Irish system whatever MPs chooseHe would like an independent ombudsman and a Scottish press councilLord Justice Leveson to publish report on press standards tomorrow
15:13 GMT, 28 November 2012
Change: Alex has preempted the Leveson report and said he wants a different system of press regulation to the rest of the UK
Scottish first minister Alex Salmond wants a separate system of press regulation to the rest of the UK irrespective of what MPs at Westminster choose to introduce after the Leveson Inquiry.
The SNP leader plans to ape Ireland's model and install an independent ombudsman and a press council to deal with complaints about newspapers.
Broadcasting regulation is controlled and decided by Westminster but the powers of holding the press to account was devolved to Holyrood.
Mr Salmond could use this as a cornerstone of his manifesto as Scotland approaches its 2014 independence vote.
Speaking to the BBC he said he opposed full state regulation but his ideas represented a 'happy compromise'.
'A lot of fears have been raised that Lord Leveson is going to recommend state regulation of the press, and I don't think he will incidentally, and I can't see there's going to be a currency of support for that in Scotland. We value our free press far too much,' he said.
'On the other hand if he said, “Oh, laissez faire, all's for the best, the best of all possible worlds” – I don't think he is going to do that incidentally – then that also would be inadequate because clearly the current voluntary system is broken.'
Today dozens of MPs and peers, including nine former Cabinet ministers, urged David Cameron to resist laws which would shackle Britain’s 300-year-old free Press.
On the eve of Lord Justice Leveson’s report into media standards, the cross-party group of 86 insists that any form of statutory regulation risks undermining a cornerstone of our democracy and asks the Prime Minister to reject any form of statutory media regulation.
Friendly: Alex Salmond's links to Rupert Murdoch and News International have been under scrutiny
Signatories to a letter opposing any prospect of legislation to regulate newspapers include the widely respected former Speaker of the Commons, Baroness Boothroyd, Olympics boss Lord Coe, former Conservative Party leadership contender David Davis, Downton Abbey creator Lord Fellowes and former Labour home secretary David Blunkett.
Alex Salmond's links to Rupert Murdoch and News International were laid bare when unseen emails were released to the Leveson Inquiry showing his contact with NI executives.
He was accused of backing News Corporation's takeover of BSkyB in return for the support of the Scottish Sun and potentially backing for an independent Scotland.
Media standards: David Cameron (right) has been
urged by 86 MPs to resist state regulation as Lord Justice Leveson's (left)
report into media standards is due to be published tomorrow
Former News International staff are caught up in legal proceedings north of the border, including former News of the World Editor Andy Coulson, who faces phone hacking-related charges in Scotland.
Mr Coulson is also accused of perjury in the trial of Tommy Sheridan two years ago, which he denies.
Speaking today Mr Salmond said that Ireland's model would be best for Scotland.
'It seems to be a happy compromise between, on the one hand the over-regulators, and on the other hand those who believe in “laissez-faire”,' he said.
'The Irish press council system, or at least something like it, would seem to be at least an area where we can talk about and bring about a distinctively Scottish solution that protects absolutely the freedom of the press but still allows people, particularly people without the means to carry forward a defamation action, proper redress.'