Alister Jack to appear on final day of UK Covid Inquiry in Edinburgh

The secretary of state for Scotland will be the final participant after a three-week sitting in Edinburgh.

Scottish secretary Alister Jack will appear before the UK Covid Inquiry on Thursday on the final day of the three-week sitting in Edinburgh.

It comes as former first minister Nicola Sturgeon gave evidence on Wednesday, during which she emotional when answering questions about the handling of the pandemic.

She told the Inquiry that a “large part” of her wishes she was not first minister during the pandemic and denied allegations of secrecy within her government.

The ex-SNP leader held back tears at several points during the six-and-a-half-hour session in Edinburgh.

Her former deputy, John Swinney told the Inquiry earlier this week that Jack was not often consulted in decision making.

He said efforts were not made to engage with the UK Government minister as he “would have contributed nothing of useful value” in problem solving between Holyrood and Westminster.

Claire Mitchell KC, who was appearing on behalf of the Scottish Covid Bereaved Group, said: “In your written evidence to this inquiry, you say that you experienced ‘no tangible presence’ of Alister Jack in any aspect of work in handling the pandemic in Scotland.

“My question to you is: were there efforts made to engage him in this process? If so, what?”

Swinney stated: “The short answer is probably no because there was no real value in it.

“If the Scottish Government had a problem with the UK Government the best way to solve it was to go directly to the person in the UK Government.

John Swinney claimed the Secretary of State for Scotland would have ‘contributed nothing of useful value’. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

“And indeed we had interlocutors who were quite helpful in trying to help resolve these issues.

“In my experience the secretary of state for Scotland would have contributed nothing of useful value in assisting us in that process.”

Jack will appear at around 10am on the final day of the three-week sitting of the Inquiry in Edinburgh before closing statements from the core participants which will continue into the afternoon.

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