First Minister Alex Salmond would have knowingly led UK ministers to break the law if it advanced Scottish interests, according to Lord Justice Leveson's report into press standards.
Mr Salmond displayed a "striking" readiness to lobby UK Business Secretary Vince Cable and former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt on behalf of Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp during their consideration of the legality of its proposed acquisition of BSkyB, according to the inquiry report.
Lord Justice Leveson found no evidence of a deal to trade NewsCorp newspaper support for the SNP in exchange for Scottish Government support for the BSkyB bid, but he noted that both were discussed during the same conversation.
Ultimately, Mr Salmond did not contact the UK ministers, despite indicating his willingness to do so, and therefore "cannot be criticised" because he must be "judged by what he did, as opposed to what he said he was prepared to do".
But Lord Justice Leveson found that Mr Salmond was aware the ministers had a quasi-judicial role and that this knowledge "would not have stopped him from trying to advance considerations which would have led the decision-maker into error had they been heeded".
"Plurality was the only consideration which could legitimately have been taken into account by the Secretary of State," said Lord Justice Leveson.
"Acceding to Mr Salmond's argument would have rendered the decision unlawful."
Commenting on the report, Mr Salmond's spokesman said: "Today's report is a complete vindication of the First Minister's position in terms of the case he was prepared to put to promote Scottish jobs and the wider Scottish economic interest.
"As Lord (Justice) Leveson himself says, Mr Salmond 'cannot be criticised' in respect of the BSkyB takeover issue and was 'motivated by an anxiety to help Scottish employment and to benefit Scotland generally' which was 'entirely laudable and exactly what is the expectation and proper function of the First Minister'.
"This report drives a coach and horses through the claims of opposition politicians in the Scottish Parliament, whose own parties' dealings with News Corporation and other major media organisations have been far greater than those of the First Minister."