Nicola Sturgeon insists WhatsApp was not used to make decisions during pandemic as she faces grilling at inquiry

31 January 2024, 10:45 | Updated: 31 January 2024, 11:18

Nicola Sturgeon arriving at the UK Covid inquiry hearing at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre
Nicola Sturgeon arriving at the UK Covid inquiry hearing at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Emma Soteriou

Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that WhatsApp was not used to make decisions during the pandemic as she faces grilling at the Covid inquiry.

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The former first minister said she did not make "extensive" use of WhatsApp, with big decisions being made "formally".

It comes after Ms Sturgeon was heckled while arriving at the inquiry on Wednesday. She is under increased scrutiny over the deletion of WhatsApp messages during the pandemic.

But she said there was "nothing" important in them that was not already on the official record.

Ms Sturgeon previously said despite messages having "not been retained" on her own device, she was still able to obtain copies to submit to the inquiry last year.

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon branded Boris Johnson a 'f***ing clown' and 'utterly incompetent' over Covid lockdowns, inquiry hears

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon says Covid inquiry has copies of messages after hearing heard pandemic texts were 'all deleted'

It comes after WhatsApp messages between Ms Sturgeon and then chief of staff Liz Lloyd revealed that she branded Boris Johnson "a f****** clown".

She blasted Mr Johnson for his "utter incompetence", saying it was "offending me on behalf of politicians everywhere".

Ms Sturgeon went on to say the former PM's address to the nation on October 31 2020 was "f****** excruciating" and that the UK Government's communications were "awful".

Ms Lloyd said she was "offended" on behalf of special advisers everywhere.

"He is a f****** clown," Ms Sturgeon replied.

First Minister Humza Yousaf leaving the UK Covid Inquiry hearing last week
First Minister Humza Yousaf leaving the UK Covid Inquiry hearing last week. Picture: Alamy

Current first minister Humza Yousaf offered an "unreserved" apology for the Scottish Government's "frankly poor" handling of requests for WhatsApp messages during his evidence last Thursday.

He announced an external review into the Government's use of mobile messaging.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "As the First Minister outlined, he has commissioned an externally-led review into the use of mobile messaging apps and non-corporate technology in the Scottish Government.

"This will take particular account of Government interaction with statutory public inquiries.

"During this period, we will continue to keep our records management policy under review in line with legislation.

"The external review will inform a wider internal records management policy review.

"More detail on the external and internal reviews will be given in due course."

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