David Cameron ‘met Sony over Outlander UK release’

DAVID Cameron met with Sony representatives ten weeks before the referendum on Scottish independence to discuss the release date of TV show Outlander in the UK, according to leaked emails published by Wikileaks.
Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall in the TV series. Picture: APCaitriona Balfe as Claire Randall in the TV series. Picture: AP
Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall in the TV series. Picture: AP

The series, dubbed Scotland’s answer to Game of Thrones, was shown on American television but its premiere in the UK was delayed last year.

It was eventually released through Amazon Prime in March this year, after the firm acquired the rights to the drama.

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But leaked emails from Sony Pictures suggest the entertainment firm met with UK Prime Minister David Cameron in the lead-up to the referendum to discuss the historic vote as well as the TV show.

The email, sent from Sony vice president Keith Weaver to chief executive Michael Lynton and other senior Sony figures, outlines the focus of the meeting, with particular reference to ‘overall investment in the UK’.

The email states [sic]: “From a SPE [Sony Pictures Entertainment] perspective, your meeting with Prime Minister Cameron on Monday will likely focus on our overall investment in the U.K. - with special emphasis on...the importance of OUTLANDER (i.e. particularly vis-à-vis the political issues in the U.K. as Scotland contemplates detachment this Fall).”

The email was included among the thousands released to the general public last year, when hackers seized the data in supposed retaliation for controversial Kim Jong-un film The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.

Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, said of the Sony leak: “This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation. It is newsworthy and at the centre of a geopolitical conflict.

“It belongs in the public domain. WikiLeaks will ensure it stays there.”

A Westminster spokesperson said that the government did not comment on leaked documents.

A spokesperson for Sony didn’t directly address the reported meeting with the Prime Minister, but said: “The cyber-attack on Sony Pictures was a malicious criminal act, and we strongly condemn the indexing of stolen employee and other private and privileged information on WikiLeaks.

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“The attackers used the dissemination of stolen information to try to harm SPE and its employees, and now WikiLeaks regrettably is assisting them in that effort.

“We vehemently disagree with WikiLeaks’ assertion that this material belongs in the public domain and will continue to fight for the safety, security, and privacy of our company and its more than 6,000 employees.”

Westminster was criticised by pro-independence voters after it emerged that the UK Government had contacted more than 30 countries in the hopes of gaining support for the Union.

And US President Barack Obama’s comments on Scottish independence came after ‘an informal request from Downing Street’ according to Financial Times journalist Gideon Rachman.

In August 2014, Diana Gabaldon said during an event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival that there was ‘no evidence’ that the referendum was behind the delay in screening the drama in Britain.

She added: “There is a lot of talk and speculation as to why the show hasn’t been sold to the UK yet. There is public talk, rumour and speculation, but there is absolutely no evidence on which to speculate.

“The most common rumour is that they’re holding off until after the referendum on independence, but as far as I know there’s no evidence whatsoever to suggest that’s true.”

Outlander star Sam Heughan voiced his support for a Yes vote in July last year, saying: “If we vote Yes, I think the rest of the world will admire us. And we can begin building a better Scotland.”