How and where did Nicola Sturgeon make her big decisions during the pandemic? Not on WhatsApp, and never badly, according to the evidence she has given to the UK Covid Inquiry so far this morning.
The questions to the former first minister have largely focused on how she recorded discussions between ministers, and why she deleted WhatsApp messages. She admitted that she did delete them, but insisted that it was not her practice to have detailed discussions with colleagues about decision-making on this channel anyway. ‘It’s not my style’, she said, criticising the use of WhatsApp in government as being too common and that it was too open to misinterpretation. She claimed that she and John Swinney rarely messaged one another on WhatsApp, save to ask whether they could have a word with one another.
‘Openness and transparency with the Scottish public was very important to me from the outset’, she claimed. She gave the inquiry her ‘personal assurance’ that it has all the relevant material on her decision-making processes – but had to apologise for giving an answer that she said might not have been as clear as it could have been when asked by Channel 4 at one of her Covid briefings that any inquiry would have access to her WhatsApps.
There was an amusing and revealing moment when Sturgeon was presented with some messages that had survived deletion. One read: ‘I’m having a bit of a crisis of decision making in hospitality, not helped by fact I haven’t slept. The public health argument says stick with 6 p.m./ no alcohol for level 3. But I suspect industry will go mad – and I worry we could derail debate (though I suspect that won’t happen – and we could commit to listening and changing if we felt necessary).’