Sturgeon criticised over non-attendance at Cobra meetings

Labour accuse First Minister of a 'dereliction of duty' but Scottish Government dismiss claims as 'not news'.

Sturgeon criticised over non-attendance at Cobra meetings Getty

Nicola Sturgeon is facing criticism after missing five key Cobra meetings in the run-up to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Scottish Labour have accused the First Minister of a “dereliction of duty”, while the Scottish Conservatives said the SNP “cannot have it both ways” following criticism of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was last week accused of missing five cobra meetings earlier in the year.

But a Scottish Government spokesman dismissed this as “not news”, saying: “The First Minister detailed Scottish Government attendance at one of her daily updates, but to recap – the First Minster has been chairing meetings of the Scottish Government Resilience Committee (our equivalent of Cobra) since January 29.

“In addition, the Scottish Government has been represented at all Cobra ministerial meetings on coronavirus that we have been invited to.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said Ms Sturgeon had displayed poor judgement.

She said: “The First Minister needs to explain what she was doing that was so important that she missed all these meetings, or is this merely about status and she won’t go if Boris isn’t there?

“As questions continue about the seeming lack of preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic, the insufficient supply of PPE and the lack of testing, not attending the Cobra meeting seems like poor judgment on the part of the First Minister.”

During the Scottish Government daily briefing on Sunday, Jeane Freeman, the cabinet secretary for health, echoed this, saying she had been at every meeting, bar one.

She added: “The First Minister took part in the meetings from March 2. More importantly, we stood up our Scottish Government resilience operation in late January, chaired by the First Minister from the first meeting with the exception of Friday there.

“In the initial stages, the meetings were looking at it from a health perspective, then as the pandemic progressed, we looked at the wider implications and wider decisions were taken about how we should address and deal with coronavirus, as it was affecting a much broader spectrum of Scottish society.”

Murdo Fraser, Scottish Conservative shadow constitution secretary, said the SNP’s Westminster group leader Ian Blackford should apologise for his condemnation of Johnson missing Cobra meetings.

“Perhaps, in future, SNP MPs will try to remember that the public deserves all politicians working together to beat this virus,” he said.

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