Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf and his deputy Shona Robison “deliberately misled” Holyrood in statements about WhatsApp messages during the Covid pandemic, Scottish Labour has claimed.
The party’s deputy leader Dame Jackie Baillie made the accusation after it emerged the UK Covid-19 Inquiry had asked the Scottish Government for “communications relating to key decisions” including emails, texts and WhatsApp messages in February 2023.
Scottish ministers have consistently said they did not make key decisions over WhatsApp during the pandemic.
In a statement to Holyrood last week, Ms Robison said the inquiry only asked for summaries of WhatsApp groups in June, saying this was followed up in September with a request for messages exchanged in the groups.
Mr Yousaf has since repeated her statement.
Dame Jackie claimed the Scottish Government only revealed the request came in February “because the UK Covid public inquiry insisted that the record was corrected”.
She told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Thursday: “I think it’s very clear that Parliament was deliberately misled.”
She claimed the actions of Mr Yousaf and his deputy “exposes the extent to which this shambolic Government, because there is no other way to describe them, is actually trying to cover up the truth”.
She added: “I think it is clear from what they said that they have misled Parliament.
“But it begs the question from me, what on Earth do they have to hide?
“And for those families who lost loved ones due to Covid, they surely deserve answers and they are simply not getting them.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has demanded both the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister “immediately set the record straight”.
Mr Ross said: “It’s clear that the First Minister and Deputy First Minister misled Parliament last week when they claimed that ministers were only asked to hand over WhatsApp messages in the last few weeks.
“Both must immediately set the record straight and explain why they peddled this lie.
“The continued misinformation, evasion and lack of transparency from SNP ministers past and present is an insult to those who lost loved ones during the pandemic.”
Claims that Mr Yousaf and Ms Robison misled Parliament come in the wake of reports that senior Scottish Government figures, including former first minister Nicola Sturgeon and national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch, have deleted WhatsApp messages exchanged during the pandemic.