Alex Salmond's thoughts on press regulation

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Media captionAlex Salmond said he would not support state regulation of the press

Substantial interest here at Holyrood anent Alex Salmond's thoughts on the regulation of the press, a day ahead of the publication of Lord Justice Leveson's report.

You'll recall that the judge was asked in June last year to conduct an investigation into the press and related matters following the newspaper phone hacking scandal.

You'll recall that the report was commissioned by David Cameron - who indicated today in the Commons that he would favour cross-party talks on what is a sensitive subject for politicians who risk accusations of favouring their own interest if they make regulation too intrusive or draconian.

But, with regard to the written press, regulation is devolved. It is a matter for Holyrood.

Which opens a range of prospects - including a cross-border deal on identical regulation, Holyrood consent for Westminster to include Scotland in any legislation and a Scottish solution.

Alex Salmond stresses that he has by no means reached a final decision.

Self-evidently, he wants to study what Lord Justice Leveson has to say. Like the prime minister, he wants to proceed through consultation.

But he told me in an interview that he is utterly against state regulation.

Instead, he is presently minded to back the Irish model: a strengthened, voluntary press council with lay members and a lay chair; an ombudsman who pursues cases particularly for those who lack funds to seek redress through defamation laws; and an incentive for the newspapers in that an apology to the council might help mitigate damages in any subsequent court actions.

Opposition reaction? Cautious. Wary. Politicians of all colours are exceptionally interested in their media profile - and thus exceptionally anxious about issues concerning the press.

Equally, though, politicians of all colours sense that there was intense public anger at some of the disclosure surrounding the phone hacking episodes.

More generally, this issue has a hinterland in Scotland through the accusations, principally from Labour, that Mr Salmond's own relationship with Rupert Murdoch was rather too close. (Mr Salmond says he has published details of all such contacts and has absolutely nothing to hide.)

More tomorrow. There will be a statement in the Commons from the PM - who received an advance copy of the report today.

Mr Salmond is not party to this arrangement - and so plans instead to hold a debate at Holyrood next week.

PS: All the very best from me to Stewart Hosie MP who is in hospital in Dundee recovering from a mini-stroke.