The First Minister, Alex Salmond, has been accused of “testing incredulity” following the launch issue of The Scottish Sun on Sunday, at the weekend, which splashed that the upcoming referendum on Scotland's constitutional future “is set to be held on October 18, 2014″.
The accusation, made by Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont, was made at First Minister's Questions at lunchtime, in the Scottish Parliament and follows a meeting, yesterday, between Salmond and Rupert Murdoch, whose News International publishes The Scottish Sun and its Sunday sister title.
And responding to Lamont's claim that the date had been knowingly leaked to the paper, Salmond hit back by restating a previous statement that the date remains the subject of a consultation exercise on how the referendum is conducted. Replied Lamont: “I'm sure in the First Minister's world that sounds very believable. It's testing incredulity to the point of destruction.”
And Salmond further rebuked Labour, claiming it enjoyed champagne and oysters at News International's expense, and maintaining a “courtship” with the publishers even when it knew of possible malpractice, including phone-hacking, by some of its journalists.
Hospitality, he said, at the First Minister's official residence of Bute House is “a cup of tea and a Tunnock's caramel wafer.”
Watch Lamont and Salmond 'cross swords' here, including dealing with a question as to whether journalism malpractice occurs in Scotland, with Salmond saying: “There were very few Scottish examples.”