A FORMER top official in Nicola Sturgeon’s government has resigned from his new executive role after less than one month following evidence at the Covid Inquiry.

Ken Thomson served as director-general for strategy and external affairs at the Scottish Government for 12 years from December 2011.

In December 2023, it was announced that he would take over as chair of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS). He officially replaced former Brexit department civil servant Philip Rycroft on January 1, 2024.

However, Thomson resigned on January 31.

A statement on the ICAS website stated: “ICAS will shortly begin the process of appointing a Chair of the Regulation Board.

“This follows Ken Thomson’s resignation as an ICAS Public Interest Member of Council and Chair of the ICAS Regulation Board, for personal reasons.

“His resignation has been accepted with effect from January 31, 2024.”

Thomson had come up at the UK Covid Inquiry when evidence sessions saw messages he had sent to other government employees advising them on how to avoid their WhatsApps becoming public.

In Nicola Sturgeon’s evidence session, messages were shown in which Thomson reminded civil servants in the group chat where the “clear” function was and that “plausible deniability is my middle name”.

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He gave evidence to the inquiry himself on January 19.

Jamie Dawson KC asked Thomson if there was a “culture” of senior figures in the Scottish Government deleting messages “in order to defeat the very purposes for which the policies are set up”.

The former senior civil servant replied: “I need to give you a longer answer to this question, but the short answer is no.”

Later, Thomson was asked whether a note he wrote suggested the Government’s priority shifted from tackling Covid to independence.

The inquiry was shown a document written by Thomson on May 25, 2021, detailing a conversation between him and the then-deputy first minister John Swinney.

The National:

The document, Dawson (above) said, had “indy is back” written on the page.

The lawyer asked: “Does that tend to suggest that in the course of that conversation, the deputy first minister has indicated the policy priority is now to pursue independence again?”

Thomson then said the document was not a record of conversation with Swinney, and was a personal note for himself only.

A story in The Edinburgh Reporter said that ICAS had accepted Thomson’s resignation after complaints from grieving relatives of people who lost their lives to Covid.

The outlet quoted one relative as saying: “ICAS’s code of ethics claims that upholding high standards and promoting ethical leadership is at the heart of everything they do and quite frankly continuing with Mr Thomson as its regulatory chief is laughable.”