Tories accuse Humza Yousaf of misleading Holyrood over WhatsApp messages

The First Minister and his deputy were urged to refer themselves to the independent adviser for the ministerial code.

Humza Yousaf of misleading Scottish Parliament over WhatsApp messages PA Media

First Minister Humza Yousaf and his deputy should refer themselves to the independent adviser for the ministerial code over suggestions they misled parliament, the Scottish Tories have said.

Mr Yousaf and Shona Robison have been under fire in the past week after the Scottish Government published a timeline of its dealings with the UK Covid-19 Inquiry and when it was asked to divulge WhatsApp messages.

The timeline showed requests for messages had been made by the inquiry in February as opposed to September, as previously stated.

Last week, the Scottish Government handed over 14,000 messages to the inquiry, including unredacted correspondence from the First Minister.

The timeline was laid out after the inquiry “asked us to set out in more detail the full timetable of requests for information of the Scottish Government”, Robison said.

Both Yousaf and Robison have been accused by opposition leaders of misleading parliament.

If they are found to have intentionally done so, they will be “expected to offer their resignation”, according to the ministerial code.

On Wednesday, the Scottish Tories will use their debating time to accuse the ministers of deliberately misleading the parliament.

“Humza Yousaf and Shona Robison – the two most senior members of the SNP government – have deliberately misled the Scottish Parliament,” he said.

“That is why my party will use our debating time in Holyrood to urge the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to refer themselves to the independent adviser on the ministerial code.

“Only then can the whole truth be fully uncovered as to whether or not they have fallen short of the standards that the public expect them adhere to.”

Douglas Ross will lead a debate this week urging the ministers to refer themselves.PA Media

The Scottish Tory leader added: “I would urge Humza Yousaf and Shona Robison to refer themselves to the independent adviser on the ministerial code so that we can understand why they misled Parliament.

“MSPs from all parties need to get behind our motion to stand up for the integrity of the Scottish Parliament.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “The SNP must lead by example and come clean on the exact details of this scandal.

“Humza Yousaf has contradicted himself so many times that it is now hard to keep track. The grieving families at the heart of this inquiry deserve better than this.

“The First Minister must ensure that all material is handed over, whether it’s WhatsApp messages from former and current ministers, SNP secret email accounts and all legal advice, so that the inquiry can be allowed to do its job properly. The families deserve nothing less.”

The motion is unlikely to pass without support from the Scottish Greens, who are in a power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Government which has granted their co-leaders ministerial office.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “The First Minister has made clear that neither he, nor the Deputy First Minister, has misled Parliament.

“The Scottish Government has worked and will continue to work tirelessly to provide the UK Covid Inquiry with the materials it has requested. In total more than 19,000 documents have already been provided to the UK Inquiry.”

The independent adviser – who since 2013 has been James Hamilton – is tasked with assessing if the ministerial code has been breached.

Hamilton previously cleared former first minister Nicola Sturgeon of a breach over when she knew about allegations made against her predecessor Alex Salmond.

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