FORMER first minister Nicola Sturgeon and ex former deputy first minister John Swinney will give evidence to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry today.

They will face questions on how the UK and Scotland specifically prepared for the outbreak of Covid-19, which led to multiple global lockdowns after it was first detected in China in late 2019.

Sturgeon is expected to appear on Thursday morning, while Swinney faces questions in the afternoon.

The session can be watched live on YouTube here.

On Wednesday, senior Scottish Government officials began giving evidence to the inquiry. They were quizzed on the years before the pandemic and any preparation for such an event.

Jeane Freeman (below), the former cabinet secretary for health and sport, said that while Scotland could have better handled the pandemic, there was ultimately “no plan” that could have helped the country cope with Covid-19.

The National: Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeane Freeman

She said: “There were certainly areas where Scotland could have been better prepared in terms of the underlying structure and delivery of all those recommendations.

“But Scotland, like other countries throughout the world, was dealing with a virus which was unknown and new.

“So in that sense, I don’t believe there is a plan that would have been possible that would have been able, in and of itself, to cope with Covid-19.”

The inquiry has made headlines amid a legal battle with the UK Government over the release of Boris Johnson’s WhatsApps.

The inquiry’s chair, Baroness Heather Hallett, had requested Johnson’s WhatsApp messages and notebooks to be handed over in their entirety – but the Cabinet Office insisted that it could redact parts which it deemed to be irrelevant.

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Leaders of the devolved administrations, including Sturgeon, were also issued with requests.

Counsel acting on behalf of Scottish ministers said Sturgeon did not have any informal correspondence – which could include private messages, emails or diaries – that were relevant to the handling of the pandemic.

Sturgeon has previously said the pandemic was one of the hardest things she has ever had to deal with in her political career.

In her resignation speech as first minister, she said: “Leading this country through the Covid pandemic is by far the toughest thing I’ve done.

“It may well be the toughest thing I ever do. I certainly hope so.

“Now by no stretch of the imagination was my job the hardest in the country during that time.

“But the weight of responsibility was immense and it’s only very recently, I think, that I’ve started to comprehend, let alone process, the physical and mental impact of it on me.”

The inquiry will also hear from Sir Jeremy Farrar, former director of the Wellcome Trust and current chief scientist at the World Health Organisation.

He will be joined by Catherine Frances, director general for local government, resilience and communities at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.