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  1. ITV Report

Salmond tells Leveson 'reporter accessed his bank account'

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond giving evidence at the Leveson Inquiry. Photo: Reuters

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards that his bank account was accessed by a reporter.

He told Lord Justice Leveson the Observer newspaper looked into his account in the run-up to the 1999 Scottish election.

Mr Salmond said he had no evidence that his own phone had been hacked, but a former Observer journalist was able to give a "fairly exact account" of what was in his bank account.

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.

Political Editor Tom Bradby reports:

A spokesman for Guardian News & Media, publisher of The Observer, said that Mr Salmond first raised the matter of an alleged unauthorised access of his bank account 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 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.

A reference to purchases he made in a shop called Fun and Games, for young relatives, was mentioned in the alleged breach of his bank details. He said the revelation has "coloured his view" of press standards.

Youcan readthe exchange of letters between Salmond and Guardian News & Media here(pdf).

The leader of the Scottish National Party poses with supporters Credit: REUTERS/David Moir

On wider Scottish press behaviour Mr Salmond commented that are 'significant examples' of criminality in Scotland:

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.

The Scottish National Party leader has also faced pressure from his opponents about his relationship with media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, whose News of the World tabloid was closed amid the phone hacking scandal.

The pair met in February at Bute House, Mr Salmond's official residence in Edinburgh. It led to accusations he was keen to court the businessman despite public outrage over phone hacking revelations linked to the family of Milly Dowler.

Mr Salmond told the inquiry he had been in favour of the BSkyB bid if it benefited the Scottish economy, but the issue was never brought up in discussions about newspaper support. The Scottish Government has always maintained the only interest is in securing jobs.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has given evidence at the Leveson Inquiry today. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was also giving evidence at the inquiry today.

He played down his relationship with the press today saying he was "ignored or derided" before the Liberal Democrats entered Government in 2010.

The Deputy Prime Minister told the Leveson Inquiry that at a dinner party with Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks in 2009, he had been put at the "very end of the table where the children sit". He added that most of his meetings with editors and proprietors were "fairly humdrum".

He said when he became leader of the Lib Dems in 2008 many senior figures did not "know me from Adam."