It’s not been a great morning for Nicola Sturgeon at the Covid Inquiry. In August 2021, she promised bereaved families via Channel 4 News that she would disclose all her WhatsApps, even though by that stage she knew that her messages had been destroyed. Today she insisted that she thought ‘anything of any relevance or substance’ ‘would be properly recorded in the Scottish Government system’ – even though the Channel 4 question was specifically about handing over personal emails and WhatsApps. Sturgeon now claims she was trying to answer ‘the substance of the question’ adding that ‘I apologise if that answer was not as clear’. You can say that again…
It’s not gone done too well with the Scottish Covid Bereaved Families’ group. Their spokesman Aamer Anwar has now accused the former First Minister of a ‘betrayal’ over the destruction of evidence. He said:
In comparison to “let them pile up high” Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon projected a daily image of sincerity in wanting to do right by the people of Scotland during the pandemic. That carefully crafted image has been left shattered by the hands of Ms Sturgeon herself. Nicola Sturgeon stands accused of a betrayal of the many promises that she made including that nothing would be off limits in the public inquiries. Her industrial deletion of WhatsApps, along with those in her inner circle, begs the question ‘why’, when she knew a public inquiry was on its way.
It’s no surprise then that Anwar has been instructed to prepare a criminal complaint to Police Scotland and to ask the Information Commissioner’s Office to investigate any potential breaches of the law. Under the Inquiries Act 2005, it is a criminal offence if someone ‘intentionally suppresses or conceals a document that is, and that he knows or believes to be, a relevant document, or… intentionally alters or destroys any such document’.