Labour may pull out of talks to revise the press regulation system recommended by Leveson after the First Minister "failed" to secure cross-party agreement, according to a party spokesman.
A five-person panel of legal experts and journalists were suggested by Alex Salmond and to be agreed upon by all of Holyrood's political parties, following talks last week. But the Scottish Labour party have said they were not consulted on the final composition of the panel.
Also the suggestion of former MSP and advocate Brian Fitzpatrick as a member of the panel by Labour leader Johann Lamont was rejected. According to a spokesman, the party were only told who had been selected moments before the press were informed without an explanation for why their suggestion was unsuccessful.
A spokesman for Ms Lamont said: "This looks like a PR exercise and we cannot understand why we were not informed of the composition of the panel before the press release was issued. If this is truly a cross party process then cross party agreement should have been sought which the First Minister failed to do. We should have been given proper time to comment not presented with a fait accommpli either as or within minutes of the press release being distributed."
On Thursday afternoon, Ms Lamont wrote to the First Minister expressing her concerns that there was a lack of collaboration with the appointment of the panel. Mr Salmond responded with a letter in which he wrote: "Far from being informed of the panel's membership by press release, you in common with other party leaders had advance notice of my decision."
The letter goes on to state that Mr Salmond had to "operate within constraints" to choose "a relatively small, focused panel with an appropriate diversity of professional and other backgrounds and, importantly, to strike an appropriate balance of expertise".
It was for this reason that the First Minister said he decided against the selection of another practising lawyer as this may have "unbalanced" the panel but instead, "opted for the candidate with the greatest experience in defamation".
The panel chosen will be chaired by Lord McCluskey, senator of the College of Justice and a former solicitor-general. He is joined by David Sinclair, director of communications at Victim Support Scotland and former president of the National Union of Journalists; Professor Neil Walker of the University of Edinburgh; Peter Watson of law firm Levy & McRae and visiting professor at the University of Strathclyde; and journalist Ruth Wishart.
Following several months of evidence-gathering, Lord Justice Leveson recently published his report calling for legislation to underpin an independent system of self-regulation for the press. The panel will consider the Leveson recommendations, particularly how statutory underpinning of a new system could work in Scotland.
Members will look at this in terms of the Scottish legal system, any other provisions in law that relate to publication by the press in the UK and any developments in press regulation elsewhere in the UK arising from Leveson. They will also consider the experiences of press regulation outside of the United Kingdom.