A scoop, and a very significant one, for the Daily Record this morning. The Labour-leaning paper exclusively reports what has apparently been known to him for "several weeks", that former FM Jack McConnell's details - and those of his two children - appear in News of the World hacker Glen Mulcaire notebooks.
The alleged hacking of McConnell and his two children is thought to have taken place between 2001 and 2007, when McConnell was in office as First Minister. The article implicitly - but only implicitly - posits the following as an example of the sort of material the News of the World might have gained through unlawful access to private information.
"Lawyers for Jack McConnell’s family are now scouring stories in the shamed News of the World’s Scottish edition for evidence of phone-hacking. The now defunct Murdoch-owned Sunday carried a front page story in 2002 that former TV presenter John Leslie had begged Lord McConnell’s daughter Hannah for a night out. The newspaper claimed Leslie had sent Hannah, then 23, a “barrage of calls and text messages” after they met at a charity dinner in Glasgow.
Their story claimed: “Lusty John Leslie bombarded Jack McConnell’s daughter Hannah with text and phone messages until she finally agreed to go out with him.” The newspaper said that Hannah initially turned him down.It claimed: “Leslie called Hannah again and again, inundating her with messages until she caved in.” The pair went on one date in London and did not see each other again."
The McConnells are all, reportedly, suing civilly. The Record piece is overlarded with a good deal of partisanship, baiting hooks for Salmond fishing, but that shouldn't distract from the significance of this development. On all sides of Scottish politics, we've heard only banal boilerplate condemnations about the hacking scandal, or a certain diffidence about the whole affair, attributable perhaps to seeing it as a Fleet Street problem, limited to London.
Ironically, if you read the Information Commissioner's Motorman report of 2006, one of the few Scottish titles explicitly to be ranked on its hierarchy of offenders (Scottish editions of UK papers not being disaggregated) was the Record itself, against whom the Commissioner recorded seven transactions where private information was unlawfully tafficked for by two Record employees. One of Motorman's key investigators has already indicated that Rangers' Ally McCoist was amongst those who were Scottish victims of the "black market in illegal information". Remember, the Motorman investigator Alec Owens has also claimed that:
"Amongst the files there were a lot of Scottish telephone numbers for reporters, a lot of Scottish numbers like 0141, 0131. A lot of numbers I recognised as Scottish. There were a lot of victims in Motorman that could be related as Scottish."
"There was a lot of information about ... Scottish reporters. One in particular, who I can't name, came out very strongly and, had we been allowed to do the job we wanted to do, he would have been in the top 10."
This morning's McConnell revelations - particularly those touching on his children, and their private lives - surely ought to put pay to that complacency about the Scottish dimension which will - almost certainly, even understandably - receive scanty attention at Leveson.