WhatsApp apologies aren't cutting it with families bereaved by Covid

Inquiry exchanges have given us an insight into some of what was going on behind the scenes during the pandemic.

WhatsApp apologies aren’t cutting it with families bereaved by Covid STV News

Let’s be honest, none of us would relish our WhatsApp messages being read out in public.

This week, exchanges between senior members of the Scottish Government have given us an insight into some of what was going on behind the scenes during the Covid pandemic.

From the national clinical director Jason Leitch offering tips to the now First Minister Humza Yousaf on how to avoid wearing a face mask at a social event, to Nicola Sturgeon offering her unguarded opinion on Boris Johnson, the UK Covid Inquiry’s visit to Edinburgh has certainly made headlines.

Then there was Yousaf’s less than complimentary description of former Labour MSP Neil Findlay.

However, while the language may have raised some eyebrows, Sturgeon’s views on the then occupant of Number 10 will have come as no surprise.

The biggest revelations came elsewhere.

WhatsApp messages between Sturgeon and her then chief of staff Liz Lloyd show the pair discussing lockdown rules, while appearing to reach a decision.

That would contradict Sturgeon’s statement last weekend that she conducted the Covid response through formal processes rather than any informal messaging system.

Any decisions made on chats like this would require to be recorded formally.

Later exchanges showed Lloyd saying she wanted a “good old fashioned rammy” over extending the furlough scheme.

Lloyd told the Inquiry this was “a public spat with a purpose” since she wanted to apply pressure to the UK Government, which was considering winding down financial support.

However, the admission has opened the door for opposition politicians to claim that is evidence of the Scottish Government attempting to make political capital from the crisis.

Both Lloyd and Leitch insist they have abided by the guidance on retaining messages.

But amid the debate over interpretation of the rules, and what constitutes a decision, questions over why so many messages were deleted will linger.

Exchanges from the early part of the pandemic – when some of the key decisions on lockdown and care homes were made – no longer exist, we are told.

Yousaf has apologised to the Inquiry for the Scottish Government’s “poor handling” of messages.

An external review into the use of apps will now be held.

But apologies, no matter how often they are repeated, just aren’t cutting it with families who lost loved ones.

They are now re-evaluating what they heard during the pandemic.

Trust broken will be extremely difficult to repair.

Brace yourselves for further revelations when more senior figures from the Scottish Government of the time – including Sturgeon – appear at the Inquiry next week.

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