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by Staff reporter
29 January 2024
Jeane Freeman: ‘It never occurred to me to delete WhatsApp messages’

Jeane Freeman was health secretary until she stood down at the 2021 election

Jeane Freeman: ‘It never occurred to me to delete WhatsApp messages’

Former health secretary Jeane Freeman has told the UK Covid inquiry that it “never occurred” to her to delete WhatsApp messages from her phone.

Freeman, who stepped down from her post in May 2021, said she was unaware of a Scottish Government policy to delete messages from official handsets.

Freeman told the inquiry she used a Scottish Parliament-issued phone with the number she had had since 1993 and a Scottish Government iPad.

Under questioning from Jamie Dawson KC, counsel to the inquiry, Freeman said: “I never deleted messages. Primarily because it never occurred to me to do so.”

Asked if she was aware of a government policy that messages should be periodically deleted, she said: “I wasn’t aware of that policy. That’s not to say I hadn’t been given that policy but in the pace of the pandemic there were some documents like that that I may not have paid as much attention to, rightly, as others. So I wasn’t aware of that policy and I didn’t delete WhatsApp messages.

“I am not the most technologically gifted member of the Scottish Government at that time. So, I searched as best I could – as best as understood it – and then provided to the inquiry everything that I found.”

Freeman said she had been the member of a WhatsApp group which included the health secretaries of the four nations. She said she had exchanged a “very small number of text messages” with Nicola Sturgeon

She added: “Ms Sturgeon and I were in each other’s company every day, so most of the business we conducted between us was conducted verbally or by telephone.”

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