SHORTLY before First Minister's Questions (FMQs) got under way, we learned that the Scottish Government has not handed over any WhatsApp messages to the UK Covid inquiry.

Jamie Dawson KC said that there remains a "lack of clarity" about how Scottish Government decision-makers used WhatsApp, what materials are held and where they can be recovered. And, if messages haven’t been retained, why not?

In his first question to the First Minister, Douglas Ross (below) said that grieving families "deserve answers and full transparency from this government".

The National:

"So why has Humza Yousaf not handed over key messages to the inquiry," he asked.

In response, Yousaf denied claims that his government hadn’t acted transparently, telling the chamber that it would "co-operate fully" with both the Scottish and UK inquiries.

"Let me make it clear that any potentially relevant information that we hold, be it in WhatsApp, email – any correspondence – we will hand over, have handed over, and if there are concerns that have been raised by the inquiry ... then we will fully investigate them," he said.

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It’s the will-hand-over, have-handed-over bit that folk might find just a smidgen confusing.

The row over Schrodinger’s WhatsApp messages comes after some highly embarrassing exchanges between UK Government officials during the pandemic were made public.

Reading them in all their bitchy, chaotic glory is made all the weirder when you consider that most of these high-flying decision-makers were probably wearing jogging bottoms and nursing their sourdough starters when they sent them.

Despite Ross’s obvious frustration with his answers, Humza Yousaf persevered.

"We will of course hand over – and we have handed over – relevant material. There are some messages that we’re going to continue to provide but they have to go through the appropriate processes," he continued.

I wonder if those appropriate processes involve typing sweary words into the WhatsApp search bar to screen out some of the more salacious titbits from that fraught period of time.

At this point, the eyeroll the Scottish Tory leader gave Yousaf could have been seen from space.

"I’m not sure what the First Minister is talking about," he snapped. 

"This is from this morning – surely he is aware of what is happening? Jamie Dawson says the Scottish Government has provided the inquiry with NO WhatsApp or other informal messaging material."

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He then read out a series of quotes from the First Minister from various occasions where he had promised to hand over all WhatsApp messages. It was the kind of unflattering edit you’d expect on guilty-pleasure TV, like the Real Housewives of New York City. Only considerably less entertaining.

"So where are the messages, where have they gone, and has the Scottish Government deleted any messages," asked Ross.

In response, the First Minister took the opportunity to have a wee dig at the UK Government.

"The Scottish Government did not make decisions through WhatsApp, that’s not what we routinely did – I know that’s very different to what was being intimated by the UK Government," he said.