Scottish Government’s Covid WhatsApp messages ‘starkly different’, insists Flynn

The content of the Scottish Government’s messages handed over to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry will be “starkly different” to those of Westminster politicians, Stephen Flynn has said.

The SNP’s Westminster leader said revelations at the inquiry have already shown the public was treated with “complete contempt” by officials in London during the pandemic.

It comes after Humza Yousaf admitted the Scottish Government had interpreted requests from the inquiry for WhatsApp messages sent during the pandemic “too narrowly”.

Stephen Flynn
Stephen Flynn said the Scottish Government has now handed the messages to the inquiry (PA)

However Scotland’s First Minister rejected claims from opponents that he had deliberately misled Holyrood about the timeline of his Government’s dealings with the inquiry.

Mr Flynn was asked about the WhatsApp messages as he appeared on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Friday.

He said Mr Yousaf had accepted the requests had been interpreted too narrowly, but all messages have now been handed over.

Mr Flynn said: “What I would like to know, and I think the public would like to know, is why there is such a focus on the process here – not necessarily the content of the messages.

“Because I would imagine, I’d be quite confident, that the content of those messages will be starkly different than what we’ve seen from Westminster politicians. Who of course treated the public with complete contempt during the Covid pandemic.”

First Minister’s Questions
Humza Yousaf rejected claims he had misled the Scottish Parliament (Jane Barlow/PA)

On Thursday, Mr Yousaf and Deputy First Minister Shona Robison were accused of misleading Holyrood in their explanations of how the Scottish Government handled requests from the inquiry.

Ms Robison was forced to release a timeline of events on Wednesday, confirming requests for WhatsApp messages had been made by the inquiry in February as opposed to September, as previously stated.

Mr Yousaf said he did not accept claims from the Scottish Conservatives that he “didn’t tell the truth”.

He said: “Where I do accept fully from the inquiry is that we have interpreted their requests too narrowly and subsequently having done so we have then supplied 14,000 messages to the inquiry.”