Nicola Sturgeon has responded to claims that WhatsApp messages sent during the covid pandemic had been deleted.
At a hearing of the UK Covid inquiry in Edinburgh, counsel to the inquiry Jamie Dawson KC said the former first minister appeared to “have retained no messages whatsoever”.
Now, Sturgeon has responded to the claims, saying she submitted copies of the messages to the enquiry.
She added that she “acted in line with Scottish Government policy”.
Nicola Sturgeon has responded to the claims heard in the covid inquiry
In a statement on social media, she wrote: “I do not intend to give a running commentary on the ongoing Inquiry. Instead, out of respect to all those impacted by the pandemic, I will answer questions directly and openly when I give evidence at the end of this month.
“However, in light of recent coverage, there are certain points I feel it important to make clear. Contrary to the impression given in some coverage, the Inquiry does have messages between me and those I most regularly communicated with through informal means.
“Although these had not been retained on my own device, I was able to obtain copies which I submitted to the Inquiry last year. To be clear, I conducted the Covid response through formal processes from my office in St Andrews House, not through WhatsApp or any other informal messaging platform.
“I was not a member of any WhatsApp groups. The number of people I communicated with through informal messaging at all was limited.”
Nicola Sturgeon and former deputy first minister John Swinney
She added: “Also, any handwritten notes made by me were passed to my private office to be dealt with and recorded as appropriate. Throughout the entire process, I acted in line with Scottish Government policy.
“I did my level best to lead Scotland through the pandemic as safely as possible – and shared my thinking with the country on a daily basis.
“I did not get every decision right, far from it, but I was motivated only, and at all times, by the determination to keep people as safe as possible.”
Senior civil servant Lesley Fraser told the inquiry that the Scottish government had been unable to supply Sturgeon’s messages from its corporate record.
Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Dame Jackie Baillie said following reports of Sturgeon’s deletion: “This is nothing short of a shocking betrayal of the people of Scotland who suffered so much during the pandemic.”
Meanwhile Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, said Sturgeon and former deputy first minister John Swinney “have huge questions to answer over their conduct in the wake of this devastating revelation”.
The inquiry is sitting in Scotland for three weeks.