UK & World News
Salmond Says Reporter Hacked His Bank Account
Scotland's First Minister has alleged his bank account was illegally accessed by The Observer newspaper.
Alex Salmond MSP told the Leveson inquiry into media ethics that he was informed by a former Observer journalist that the newspaper had looked into his account.
He made the serious allegation in response to a question from the Counsel to the Inquiry, Robert Jay QC who asked the Scottish National Party leader if he believed his phone might have been hacked at any time.
Mr Salmond said: "I have no evidence that my own phone has been hacked," but he added: "My bank account was accessed by The Observer newspaper some time ago, in 1999, and my reason for believing that is I was informed by a former Observer journalist."
He said information passed to him by the journalist tallied with details in his account and could only have been known to someone who had looked into that account.
A reference to purchases he made in a shop called Fun and Games, for young relatives, was mentioned in the alleged breach. The revelation has he said "coloured his view" of press standards.
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Guardian News & Media, owners of The Observer said it had been unable to find any evidence the paper hacked his account.
A spokesman said: "Mr Salmond first raised the matter of an alleged unauthorised access of his bank account with The Observer's editor last year.
"The allegation was that a journalist working for The Observer had accessed his bank details in 1999. As we explained to him 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."
Mr Salmond said the incident happened in the run up to an election in Scotland, but he gave no reason why someone might have wanted to examine his bank details.
The Scottish First Minister has repeatedly refused to answer questions at the Scottish Parliament on whether he had been the victim of phone hacking, leading to accusations he has treated Holyrood with contempt.
The First Minister always insisted the Leveson Inquiry was the correct place to air the issues.
On wider Scottish press behaviour, he said: "More recently I think we'd have to accept, given the information which has now been into the hands of the police in Scotland, there are a significant, perhaps proportionally less but significant Scottish examples of possible criminality."
A number of Scots have been informed by police over the past year that people may have been victims of "illegality".
He criticised the Metropolitan Police for not handing over information quickly about possible criminal acts to Scottish police.
"It's only in the last few months that Strathclyde Police have examined all of that information and informed the potential victims of the possibility of criminal acts against them," he said.
"That seems to me a highly undesirable situation and something similar applies to possible breaches of data protection as well."