Nicola Sturgeon faced intense questioning at Holyrood regarding her potential deletion of mobile messages linked to the Covid pandemic. This inquiry comes after the shocking revelation last week that a number of key Scottish Government figures had wiped their WhatsApp messages.
When asked directly whether she had deleted these messages, Sturgeon opted not to provide a definitive answer. Instead, she emphasized her commitment to cooperating fully and transparently with the inquiry. She stated, “I am co-operating fully and constructively with the Inquiry. I am committed to full transparency.”
Sturgeon cited confidentiality regarding the details of requests and responses from the Inquiry, explaining that they would remain confidential until the Inquiry determined otherwise. She also referred to following the policy set out by the deputy first minister in handling any messages she had.
Addressing how she managed the Covid response, Sturgeon highlighted that she did not rely on WhatsApp for communication. She conducted her duties primarily from her office in St Andrew’s Office through face-to-face meetings, Zoom calls, and Teams calls. Sturgeon assured that she would provide the Inquiry with a comprehensive account of how she operated during the pandemic, clarifying what information she retained and the reasoning behind it.
Last week, the lead counsel of the UK inquiry, Jamie Dawson KC, revealed that very few messages had been retained by approximately 70 key Scottish Government figures. Reports later surfaced implicating Sturgeon and her key pandemic official, Prof Jason Leitch, in the deletion of messages.
In response to Sturgeon’s remarks, Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Jackie Baillie expressed dissatisfaction, characterizing it as a skillful evasion of questions. Baillie emphasized the need for transparency and urged Sturgeon to furnish the inquiries with a complete record of her WhatsApps from that period.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross criticized Sturgeon’s approach, describing it as a pattern of evasiveness since leaving office. He noted the contradiction in claiming a commitment to transparency while avoiding confirmation regarding the deletion of WhatsApp messages. Ross concluded that Sturgeon’s behavior only served to further diminish her reputation.