THE lawyer representing families in Scotland bereaved due to Covid-19 has questioned whether the trial of former first minister Alex Salmond or the police investigation into the SNP’s finances had any bearing on the deletion of WhatsApp messages by senior figures in the Scottish Government.

Speaking outside the UK Covid Inquiry ahead of Nicola Sturgeon’s evidence session, Aamer Anwar criticised the former SNP leader’s “industrial deletion” of WhatsApp messages.

“In comparison to ‘let the bodies pile up high’ Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon projected a daily image of sincerity in wanting to do right by the people of Scotland during the pandemic,” he said.

“But that carefully crafted image has been left shattered by the hands of Ms Sturgeon herself.

“Today, Nicola Sturgeon stands accused of a betrayal of the many promises that she made, including that nothing would be off limits during the public inquiries.

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“Her industrial deletion of WhatsApps along with those in her inner circle begs the question why, when she knew a public inquiry was on its way.

“Why from January 2020 to September 1, 2020 are there zero WhatsApps, and rather conveniently from her inner circle, too.”

Anwar then accused Sturgeon’s former chief of staff, Liz Lloyd, of “spin” during her evidence session at the UK inquiry.

He added: “Last week, her former chief of staff Liz Lloyd provided WhatsApp messages that provided much laughter and many front pages in Ms Sturgeon’s description of Mr Johnson as a clown.

“The Covid bereaved were not so easily fooled by such spin. They wanted to know what happened before those texts.

The National:

“No one has dared to ask the question what bearing the trial of Alex Salmond or Operation Branchform had on the deletion of WhatsApps.

“But the bereaved expect answers today. While there are those in this country who view everything through the myopic vision of independence versus Unionism, quite frankly the Scottish Covid bereaved care not one bit.”

During the session, Sturgeon confirmed that she had deleted her messages but said she did not conduct government business via WhatsApp.

Commenting on the content of previous messages highlighted by the inquiry, she said WhatsApp had become “too common” a means of communication.

She said: “When people are sending messages on WhatsApp, they don’t think, including me and therefore messages, when they are looked back at later on, can be open to different interpretations because people haven’t really thought about the words they’re using.

“And I think that certainly would be true of some of the exchanges that the inquiry has been looking at.”