Row over Murdoch link to Alex Salmond’s book

Alex Salmond's new book is his own view of the run-up to the Scottish independence debate. Picture: Robert Perry
Alex Salmond's new book is his own view of the run-up to the Scottish independence debate. Picture: Robert Perry
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A NEW memoir by Alex Salmond giving his own account of his attempt to achieve Scottish independence has managed to run into controversy before it has hit the bookshops.

Yesterday it emerged that Mr Salmond’s book, The Dream Shall Never Die: 100 Days That Changed Scotland, is due to be published later this month.

But as the reading public awaits Mr Salmond’s version of last year’s historic events, a leading figure on the Scottish literary scene has criticised the former first minister for using a publisher associated with the media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Mr Salmond’s book is to be published on 19 March by William Collins, an arm of HarperCollins, which is in turn a subsidiary of Mr Murdoch’s News Corporation. His choice of publisher dismayed Hugh Andrew, managing director of Birlinn – the independent Scottish publisher.

Mr Andrew said: “What a sad comment on Nationalism that at the first sign of a large cheque our ex first minister bolts for London. One might have thought he would have stood firm with the embattled publishing industry in his own country.

“Instead he goes straight to Rupert Murdoch. I am gobsmacked – it is just an old pals’ act.”

In the past, Mr Salmond has come in for criticism for his dealings with Mr Murdoch, the billionaire businessman whose media stable includes the Sun newspaper. The close relationship between the two men was explored during the Leveson inquiry into the role of the press and its dealings with politicians.

In his conclusions, Lord Leveson said Mr Salmond had shown a “striking” readiness to lobby UK ministers on behalf of Mr Murdoch’s News Corporation. Mr Salmond was questioned about his contact with Mr Murdoch and his willingness to lobby the former culture minister Jeremy Hunt over News Corporation’s attempt to take over BSkyB.

Lord Leveson also pointed out that the then first minister was seeking political support from the Sun in the same conversation as he was repeating an offer to assist with the takeover. But the inquiry concluded there was no evidence of a specific deal between Mr Salmond and the Murdochs to trade newspaper support for help with the bid.

Last night a spokeswoman for HarperCollins pointed out that the company had originated in Scotland. Speaking from London, the spokeswoman said: “We have long and distinguished Scottish roots. We started out in Scotland as William Collins, publishing bibles.”

William Collins was established in Glasgow in 1819 and still has a distribution centre in Bishopbriggs.

Last night an SNP spokesman said: “The HarperCollins UK registered office is in Bishopbriggs, Glasgow.”

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