Sturgeon transferred ‘zero’ WhatsApp Covid messages to corporate record

The former first minister is now facing calls to make a personal statement to Holyrood to answer questions from MSPs.

Nicola Sturgeon transferred ‘zero’ WhatsApp Covid messages on to corporate record PA Media

Nicola Sturgeon is facing calls to make a personal statement to Holyrood after it was confirmed the former Scottish first minister failed to transfer any WhatsApp messages from during the Covid pandemic on to her Government’s corporate record.

The Scottish Government confirmed “zero” WhatsApp messages were transferred to the electronic records and document management (eRDM) system by the former SNP leader.

Freedom of information requests from Sam Taylor of the These Islands think tank also show current First Minister Humza Yousaf, former Scottish deputy first minister John Swinney, ex-finance secretary Kate Forbes, and former health secretary Jeane Freeman similarly did not transfer messages.

Giving evidence to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry when it sat in Edinburgh last month, Ms Sturgeon confirmed she had deleted her WhatsApp messages, though she stressed this was in line with official advice, and she said all “salient” points were placed on the corporate record.

But when Taylor asked for a breakdown of messages transferred to the eRDM by Sturgeon and other key ministers from January 2020 onwards, he was told in each case “the answer is zero”.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said this shows “the culture of secrecy and cover-up at the heart of the SNP Government is becoming more stark by the day”.

She added: “Nicola Sturgeon defended wiping her WhatsApp messages by claiming important information was retained on the record – but now it seems there isn’t a trace of any of them.

“This SNP Government still has huge questions to answer, including why it failed to live up to its promise of transparency.”

Alex Cole-Hamilton called on the former first minister to make a statement to Holyrood.PA Media

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said Sturgeon, who is still the MSP for Glasgow Southside, should “stop dodging questions” and make a personal statement to Holyrood.

He said: “One year on from Sturgeon’s resignation and it seems this SNP Government is running out of excuses.

“One of the biggest scandals in Scottish political history is unfolding in front of us. If the former first minister has any shred of respect left for public life, she should heed my party’s calls to make a personal statement to Parliament and stop dodging questions.”

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

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