ANAS Sarwar has said Covid-bereaved families “don’t want tears” in response to former first minister Nicola Sturgeon holding back tears as she reflected on her handling of the pandemic.

The Scottish Labour leader added that Covid “didn’t just take a heavy impact” on Sturgeon as he responded to the former FM’s appearance at the UK Covid-19 Inquiry in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

Speaking to journalists in Westminster, Sarwar said there was a “sense of betrayal” from those who had admired Sturgeon’s leadership during the pandemic.

But he said that Sturgeon’s testimony would only serve to “further enrage” those who lost loved ones to Covid.

The National: Nicola Sturgeon

Asked for his response to Sturgeon (above) fighting back tears at the inquiry, Sarwar said: “I’ll take the words of the Covid bereaved. They said they didn’t want tears, they didn’t want an apology, they didn’t want a repetition of the script that we’ve heard now for two years.

“They wanted answers. And I think the answers they did get is only going to further enrage them, rather than give them comfort. I know it took a heavy impact on Nicola Sturgeon, but the pandemic didn’t just take a heavy impact on her.

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“It took a heavy impact on every citizen of our country and it took the heaviest impact on those who lost loved ones, for example the Covid bereaved families.”

Speaking outside the inquiry in Edinburgh, Pamela Thomas of the Scottish Covid Bereaved group said: "Her crocodile tears are not washing with me."

He said there was a sense of “betrayal” after Sturgeon confirmed on Wednesday she had deleted all WhatsApp messages from her phone, despite previously insisting she would hand over all messages to the inquiry.  

“They don’t trust the answers they’re getting from the first minister, they think there’s a sense of betrayal, they’ve lost trust and I don’t think they’re the only ones,” he said.

The Scottish Labour leader accepted that the SNP had acted as “better communicators” than the Tories in Westminster, but claimed that “many of the impacts of Covid were worse in Scotland than they were in other parts of the UK”.

He said: “There’s no denying that they were a better communications operation than the UK Government. But a pandemic response is of course partly communication but it’s not the only thing.

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"And if you look deeper down into the numbers, many of the impacts of Covid were worse in Scotland than they were in other parts of the UK and what happened in our care homes is a perfect example of that.

“There is nobody else to blame for the decision of sending Covid-positive or untested patients into care homes where it had a devastating effect and many people lost their lives as a result.

“And the idea you’re going to talk nicely or present yourself nicely to overcome why that decision was made, I don’t think is credible.”

Hospital patients in both Scotland and England were discharged to care homes without taking Covid tests.  

Speaking at the Covid inquiry earlier in the day, Sturgeon rejected claims she saw Covid as an opportunity to push Scottish independence

She said: "I didn't see an opportunity of any description in Covid. I saw a threat, a risk, a catastrophe."

Sturgeon added: "The idea that in those horrendous days, weeks, I was thinking of a political opportunity, I find, well, it's just, it wasn't true.”