Ex-Scottish First Minister 'victim of phone-hacking'

  • Ex-First Minister consults lawyers over latest phone-hacking allegations
  • Phone numbers of Jack McConnell’s son and daughter discovered in Mulcaire notebook
  • Questions over current First Minister Salmond’s relationship with News Corp

A former Scottish First Minister is pursuing legal action after police told him that he and his son and daughter may have been the victims of phone hacking by the News of the World.

Jack McConnell said he was “speaking to solicitors”‘ after police said his and his two grown-up children’s telephone numbers were found in the notes of private detective Glenn Mulcaire who worked for News International.

The former Labour politician said the discovery had been confirmed by Strathclyde Police on behalf of the Metropolitan Police.

He said: “I would prefer not to comment on details, but I can confirm that we are speaking to solicitors.”

A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police said: “I can confirm that officers working on Operation Rubicon (the force’s investigation into allegations of phone hacking) have visited a number of people on behalf of the Metropolitan Police to notify them that they may be victims of phone hacking.”

The spokeswoman was unable to say when the visits had taken place.

McConnell – now Baron McConnell of Glenscorrodale – was First Minister from 2001 to 2007. He was MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw at the Scottish Parliament before standing down before the elections last year.

He has two children, Hannah, 33, and Mark, 28, who police said could also be victims, although there is understood to be no evidence of hacking in relation to his wife Bridget.

Shadow secretary of state for Scotland, Margaret Curran MP, described the McConnell family’s situation as “very distressing”.

She said: “People will be horrified to hear of this intrusion into the lives of Jack and his family, and our thoughts are with them all.”

Mulcaire and former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman were jailed in 2007 after admitting intercepting voicemail messages left on royal aides’ phones.

News International’s parent company News Corporation has already paid out settlements to dozens of victims of phone hacking, while the company last year apologised “unreservedly” to people who were affected.

The scandal led to the closure of the News of the World newspaper in July 2010, while the Leveson Inquiry was set up to hear evidence about the culture, practice and ethics of the British press.

Last Thursday at the inquiry, which is looking into hacking and links between politicians and the press, Rupert Murdoch said News International bosses fell victim to a “cover-up”‘ over the hacking scandal.

Salmond’s News Corp links

Meanwhile, questions were raised over the current First Minister Alex Salmond’s relationship with News Corporation.

Opposition parties have demanded to know whether Salmond was prepared to lobby Jeremy Hunt, the UK Culture Secretary, on the company’s proposed takeover of BSkyB.

During an evidence session with Murdoch’s son James, it emerged that News Corp’s director of public affairs Frederic Michel emailed him and said: “I met with Alex Salmond’s adviser today. He will call Hunt whenever we need him to.”

Salmond has denied any wrongdoing.

Curran said the revelation about the McConnell family today “intensified pressure” on Salmond, while she described the Scottish Government’s response to last week’s Leveson evidence as “weak and insufficient”.

A spokesman for the First Minister said: “It is disgraceful that Mr McConnell and his family could have been subjected to such intrusion.

“The First Minister condemns outright all examples of phone hacking and other press malpractice regardless of who the victims are and who the perpetrators were. In addition he has every confidence that Strathclyde Police will vigorously pursue, without fear or favour, any evidence of criminality committed against any Scottish citizen.”

He added: “It is a matter of record that the First Minister welcomed the closure of the News of the World title in light of last year’s phone hacking revelations.”

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