Deputy First Minister Shona Robison published a detailed timeline of events in a written statement to the Scottish Parliament following a request from the UK Covid Inquiry…reports Asian Lite News
Scottish ministers have revealed the Covid Inquiry first asked them for relevant WhatsApp messages nine months ago. The first minister said last week his government was only asked to submit WhatsApp group messages related to the pandemic in September.
Opposition parties have accused Humza Yousaf and his deputy, Shona Robison, of misleading parliament.
The Scottish government said it was co-operating fully with the inquiry.
Deputy First Minister Shona Robison published a detailed timeline of events in a written statement to the Scottish Parliament following a request from the UK Covid Inquiry.
The Scottish government said that privacy concerns meant it required a formal request under Section 21 of the Inquiries Act 2005 before it was able to submit more than 14,000 messages by a 6 November deadline.
This “corporate” submission did not include minister-to-minister conversations and was restricted to conversations of three or more people involving at least one civil servant. The Scottish government said Mr Yousaf made his final submission to the UK inquiry on Monday. It is understood to run to around 100 pages.
He has also handed over Covid WhatsApp messages which he is said to have retrieved from an old phone handset.
Yousaf said previously that when the inquiry asked in June for details of the WhatsApp groups, it did not request the messages themselves. In response to a question from Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar last week, he said: “It is crucial to say that, when the UK government inquiry asked us in June for details of the various WhatsApp groups concerning Covid-19, it did not request the messages themselves.
“The messages were asked for in September, just a matter of weeks ago. The Scottish government then asked for a Section 21 order because of the personal information in some of those messages, and that was received. Now, of course, we will meet the deadline of 6 November to hand over 14,000 messages in unredacted form.”
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said: “It’s clear that the first minister and deputy first minister misled parliament last week when they claimed that ministers were only asked to hand over WhatsApp messages in the last few weeks.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said the newly-published timeline contradicted their statements. “The only thing clearer is the extent to which this shambolic government has lost control trying to cover up the truth and obstruct those seeking it,” she said. “It begs the question, what do they have to hide? “Meanwhile the public are no clearer on who has complied with the do not destroy order and how many senior ministers and officials deleted messages.”