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Nicola Sturgeon’s top doctor told colleagues to delete WhatsApp messages daily during pandemic


The head of the Civil Service has been urged to investigate Scottish officials who destroyed Covid evidence over claims they have “gone native” under the SNP.

Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, is facing calls to act on “astonishing” evidence to the Covid Inquiry which appears to show Scottish civil servants deleted WhatsApp messages to avoid scrutiny and deliberately misled the public.

It follows revelations that Nicola Sturgeon is facing a criminal investigation after also wiping pandemic messages despite legal orders that relevant material should be retained.

Evidence has come to light showing that senior civil servants repeatedly advised each other to delete messages daily, apparently so that they could not be later obtained under Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation.

UK civil servants are obliged to demonstrate “core values” which include acting with “integrity and honesty”, keeping accurate records and handling information “as openly as possible”.

Experts and opposition politicians said evidence to the inquiry raised alarm over the politicisation of the Scottish Civil Service under the SNP.

“Recent revelations are absolutely astonishing,” said Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, a Labour peer who has previously criticised the use of the Civil Service and taxpayers’ cash to push for independence.

“They reinforce concerns that the Civil Service in Scotland has gone native and is doing the bidding of the SNP and nationalist ministers, irrespective of whether it’s appropriate or within their remit.”

He added: “They seem to have forgotten their responsibilities as part of the UK Civil Service and there now should be much more drastic action.”

Scottish government communications staff denied a report in October that Jason Leitch, the national clinical director, wiped his messages every day.

But it transpired last week that he had said in May 2021, the day after the UK Covid Inquiry was announced, that “WhatsApp deletion is a pre-bed ritual”.



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