​Missing Covid evidence shames Sturgeon - Ian Murray

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, arrives ahead of a Covid briefing at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, in 2021First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, arrives ahead of a Covid briefing at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, in 2021
First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, arrives ahead of a Covid briefing at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, in 2021
​​Few political falls have been as sharp and fast as the SNP’s this year. Plummeting in the polls, rejected by the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West, losing parliamentarians to the Tories and Alba, the ferries debacle, record NHS waiting lists, and an ongoing police investigation.

But just when you thought the nationalists could not anger the public any further, the scale of SNP secrecy has now plumbed new depths.

National newspaper reports claim that messages in scores of WhatsApp groups of interest to the UK’s public inquiry into Covid have been deleted.

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Nicola Sturgeon has refused to deny allegations that some or all of her WhatsApp messages during the pandemic no longer exist.

This has understandably devastated families who lost loved ones and want to know why the Scottish Government took the decisions it did at the height of the crisis.

People were discharged to care homes without testing or even when they had tested positive, the first outbreak in Edinburgh was covered up, loved ones were separated from each other, and people lost their livelihoods.

Sturgeon may claim she has “nothing to hide” but how will we ever know if her messages aren’t made public?

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She doesn’t exactly have a strong track record of being honest with Scots.

The evidence that was taken at the UK Covid inquiry this week demonstrates why transparency in government is so important.

The sickening messages between Tory advisers, the insults flying around, the clear lack of confidence in the Prime Minister – as infuriating as it is to learn about such incompetence and chaos, at least we are starting to discover the truth.

The risk is that we will simply never know the true level of chaos or incompetence going on in St Andrew’s House.

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We need to understand why decisions were made and what happened so that we can learn lessons for the future. But the revelation about missing evidence is treating families who lost loved ones with contempt.

In August 2021, Sturgeon promised that all WhatsApp messages would be retained and, on three occasions, devolved authorities were urged by the UK Government to retain all correspondence to aid both inquiries.

Even the self-styled publicist, Prof Leitch, who appeared on our TVs and radios more often than Sturgeon herself has deleted all his messages.

It now appears that messages have been destroyed on an industrial scale. Why?

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Margaret Waterton, from Scottish Covid Bereaved, who lost her mother and husband to Covid-19, has rightly called the deleting of evidence as “shameful”.

Perhaps the most ironic element of this whole saga is that, throughout the pandemic, Sturgeon liked to distinguish herself from Boris Johnson.

The latest revelations proves that Johnson and Sturgeon were and are two sides of the same coin.

And the past week has reminded us, yet again, that the SNP and Conservative Party are unfit for office.

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Their cover-ups not only show contempt for the bereaved but also pose a risk to public trust in government and all politicians. But I’m not surprised.

Our country desperately needs change so that we have governments which command the respect of people and can be trusted and scrutinised – something which only Labour can deliver.

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