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by Louise Wilson
31 October 2023
Nicola Sturgeon: I have nothing to hide in WhatsApp row

Colin Fisher / Alamy Stock Photo

Nicola Sturgeon: I have nothing to hide in WhatsApp row

Nicola Sturgeon, the former first minister, has insisted she has “nothing to hide” amid a row over deleted WhatsApp messages sent during the course of the Covid pandemic.

But she refused to say whether she had deleted any messages, insisting that responses to the Covid inquiry were “confidential”.

It has been reported that Sturgeon and 70 other Scottish Government figures have not retained the messages, in some cases using an auto-delete function.

Speaking to journalists following a statement from deputy first minister Shona Robison, who confirmed over 14,000 messages would be handed over to the inquiry, Sturgeon said any WhatsApp messages she had were “handled and dealt with” in line with government policy.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said yesterday that it was Scottish Government policy to “routinely delete” messages – but he also said decisions were not taken via messaging services.

Sturgeon said: “I understand, given the volume and the content of some of the messages from the UK Government, there’s an assumption that we all worked like that. I did not manage the Covid response by WhatsApp. For example, I was not a member of any WhatsApp groups.”

She added: “I have nothing to hide. I am committed to full transparency to this inquiry and to the Scottish inquiry when it takes place. I am committed to that in the interest of everybody across this country who was affected by Covid.”

However, she repeatedly refused to answer questions about whether she had deleted any messages, insisting she would explain to the inquiry what information she holds and what she doesn’t, and she “cannot and will not go into the detail of those responses right now”.

The UK Covid inquiry was set up to examine the UK’s response to the pandemic. It has this week been taking evidence from senior government figures, with the use of WhatsApp messaging being a source of concern.

Sturgeon provided oral evidence to the inquiry earlier this year.

A separate Scottish inquiry is set to take place in the coming months.

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