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by Kirsteen Paterson
31 January 2024
Nicola Sturgeon: I didn't use burner phones

Nicola Sturgeon said she used a personal phone during her time as first minister | Alamy

Nicola Sturgeon: I didn't use burner phones

Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has denied reports that she purchased “burner phones” during the pandemic.

A report in the Daily Express revealed Sturgeon's expenses show the purchase of an £18 Nokia phone in March 2020, plus £18 in SIM cards.

At the UK Covid-19 Inquiry, Sturgeon was asked if she had bought the devices and why.

She said they were purchased on her authority to divert calls from her constituency office to staff forced to work from home during lockdown.

The Glasgow Southside MSP told the inquiry: "I have never to the best of my knowledge seen, held and certainly not used any of these phones."

Sturgeon confirmed that she used a personal mobile during her time as first minister, rather than a government-issued device.

She said: "It was never suggested to me at any time during my period as first minister that it was not appropriate. The reason I used a personal phone was that I didn't want to have multiple devices. On a government phone, I wouldn't have been able to do constituency business or party or personal matters and on a constituency one I can do.

"I wanted to have one device. It wasn't suggested to me that was inappropriate and I don't believe it was inappropriate. I think any phone, whether it is personal, parliament, government, is vulnerable to being left on a train or lost somehow."

On the purchase of the £18 phone and SIM cards, she said: "They were purchased certainly through my expenses on my authority; they were also not for use by me. "Many MSPs, I believe, did the same when the pandemic started and my constituency office staff could no longer work from the office.

"They were the phones my constituency office landline were diverted to in the homes of my constituency office staff."

The comments come after Sturgeon, who deleted WhatsApp messages from her phone, apologised for telling a journalist she would hand everything over.

She said all messages "germane" to decision-making had been entered into official government records.

The inquiry continues.

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