NICOLA Sturgeon has released a statement after the UK Covid Inquiry heard that all of her WhatsApp messages relating to the pandemic appear to have been deleted.

On Friday, Jamie Dawson KC said the former first minister appeared to “have retained no messages whatsoever”.

While questioning Lesley Fraser, the director general corporate of the Scottish government, Dawson said it appeared that WhatsApp messages sent by Sturgeon relating to the government’s Covid-19 response “were not retained, they were deleted in routine tidying up of inboxes or changing of phones - unable to retrieve messages”.

Fraser confirmed that this appeared to be the case.

However, Sturgeon has now released a statement emphasising that she did not steer the pandemic response via “informal messaging”.

The statement posted on X/Twitter read: “I do not intend to give a running commentary on the ongoing Inquiry.

“Instead, out of respect to all those impacted by the pandemic, I will answer questions directly and openly when I give evidence at the end of this month “However, in light of recent coverage, there are certain points I feel it important to make clear.

“Contrary to the impression given in some coverage, the Inquiry does have messages between me and those I most regularly communicated with through informal means.

“Although these had not been retained on my own device, I was able to obtain copies which I submitted to the Inquiry last year.

“To be clear, I conducted the Covid response through formal processes from my office in St Andrews House, not through WhatsApp or any other informal messaging platform.

“I was not a member of any WhatsApp groups.

READ MORE: UK Covid Inquiry: Nicola Sturgeon deleted pandemic WhatsApp messages

“The number of people I communicated with through informal messaging at all was limited.

“Also, any handwritten notes made by me were passed to my private office to be dealt with and recorded as appropriate.

“Throughout the entire process, I acted in line with Scottish Government policy. I did my level best to lead Scotland through the pandemic as safely as possible - and shared my thinking with the country on a daily basis.

“I did not get every decision right - far from it - but I was motivated only, and at all times, by the determination to keep people as safe as possible.”

The Inquiry also heard that former deputy first minister John Swinney and national clinical director Jason Leitch also regularly deleted WhatsApp messages.

Although retired civil servant Ken Thomson, who was giving evidence at the Inquiry, denied that this was done to try and defeat Freedom of Information requests.