NICOLA Sturgeon was showing the Tory government “how to do it” during the Covid pandemic, according to WhatsApp messages sent by the UK’s most senior civil servant.

Simon Case, who as cabinet secretary oversees the work of the UK’s entire civil service, made the comments in April 2020 just weeks after the first lockdown, the UK Covid-19 Inquiry has heard.

Case was giving evidence to the inquiry on Thursday when the WhatsApps were revealed.

In a conversation with former deputy cabinet secretary Helen MacNamara, Case lamented the state of the UK Government’s Covid response.

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“It is awful,” Case – who at the time was a top adviser to Boris Johnson – wrote.

“This is how strategy advice is being developed – not a single expert involved in the conversation.”

He said it was an “appalling sight [if] you vaguely believe in evidence-based government.”

MacNamara said she was “really worried”, saying that the “last straw” for her had been when someone floated the idea of doing lockdown differently in some areas in order to secretly assess the strengths of different approaches.

She added: “The secretly bit.

“Not that we shouldn’t do some things differently and carefully monitor impact.

“But that we should[n’t] experiment with people’s lives.”

Case responded: “Nicola Sturgeon showing them how to do it. Honestly need to start being transparent about the issues and choices.”

The National:

Elsewhere at the inquiry hearing, Case said that he found Johnson’s style of working “very frustrating” and described his day-to-day administration as “dysfunctional”.

Questioned by lead counsel to the inquiry Hugo Keith KC about Johnson’s prime ministerial style, Case replied: “Each prime minister has their own approach to doing it and as I say, in my job, I found it very frustrating.

“I just don’t think I understood how difficult he was finding it personally.”

Case added: “I don’t think I really understood how at quite a deep ideological level the prime minister found the mass locking up of the population – the harms.

“He was always particularly focusing on children and education, and the damage as he saw it that was being done to society through big decisions on the lockdowns.”

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Asked about the day-to-day administration of government, Case said: “It was definitely dysfunctional and it was difficult, oddly enough, sclerotic isn’t quite the right word.

“If anything, the problem is it was almost too dynamic.

“It was difficult to settle on the course of action, and be sure that the course of action would be consistent. I think that’s almost the opposite of sclerosis.”

In July 2020, before he became cabinet secretary, Case said “I’ve never seen a bunch of people less well-equipped to run a country” in a message to Mark Sedwill, who was the civil service chief at the time.

He also described Johnson and his inner circle as “basically feral” and suggested the then-prime minister’s wife Carrie was “the real person in charge” in No 10.