Steerpike Steerpike

The curious case of Nicola Sturgeon’s missing WhatsApps

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The saga of the Scottish Government’s WhatsApps continues to rumble on. The SNP regime has never been slow in condemning the Tories for a lack of transparency in the ongoing UK Covid Inquiry. So it was to Steerpike’s amusement then that Humza Yousaf and his Scottish government have been facing considerable criticism in recent months for not handing their key messages over to that same probe. Talk about being hoist by your own petard…

This morning, attention at the Covid Inquiry turned to the flailing First Minister’s predecessor. Attendees this morning heard that Nicola Sturgeon ‘retained no messages whatsoever’ from the pandemic, which, er, explains her constant refusal to confirm which messages have been retained. According to Jamie Dawson KC:

Under the box ‘Nicola Sturgeon’, it says that messages were not retained, they were deleted in routine tidying up of inboxes or changes of phones, unable to retrieve messages.What that tends to suggest is at the time that request was made Nicola Sturgeon, the former First Minister of Scotland, had retained no messages whatsoever in connection with her management of the pandemic.

That of course is not what Sturgeon promised in office. After the-then FM unveiled plans for an inquiry in August 2021, she was asked by Ciaran Jenkins of Channel 4 at the subsequent news conference: ‘Can you guarantee to the bereaved families that you will disclose emails, WhatsApps, private emails if you’ve been using them. Whatever? That nothing will be off limits in this inquiry?’ She replied:

If you understand statutory public inquiries you would know that even if I wasn’t prepared to give that assurance, which for the avoidance of doubt I am, then I wouldn’t have the ability. This will be a judge-led statutory inquiry.

Now those WhatsApps have disappeared. So much for all that talk about being ‘as transparent as possible’…

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles


Written by

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

Topics in this article


Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in