Nicola Sturgeon suggests Jason Leitch’s ‘home haircut’ disqualifies him from hosting briefings during the Scottish Parliamentary elections

The First Minister has suggested that the national clinical director’s hairstyle might be enough to disqualify him from taking her place as host of the Scottish Government daily briefings during the May elections.

Nicola Sturgeon was asked by The Daily Telegraph’s Dan Sanderson whether BBC impartiality guidelines and purdah rules in the campaign season might mean she would no longer be able to host the Scottish Government’s daily briefings herself.

When it was suggested that Professor Jason Leitch might be able to take over from the First Minister instead, she replied: “Would Jason Leitch be prepared to come in and be the face of these briefings? I will leave everybody else to decide what the answer to that question might be.

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“I was teasing Jason before I came on here today; he very clearly has had a home haircut since he last stood here, so that may be a reason not to have him stand in.”

Giving what he described as the “mature answer”, Professor Leitch said that public health messaging is “absolutely crucial” during a pandemic.

“How that happens depends on the circumstances at the time” and insisted it was “above his pay grade” to say whether the current format of Scottish Government briefings could go ahead during the election campaign.

Ms Sturgeon responded: “What you can take from that answer is that whether there is an election on or not, you are still going to have Jason on your television screens.

“Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing I will leave all of you to decide, she joked.

The First Minister has suggested that the national clinical director’s hairstyle might be enough to disqualify him from taking her place as host of the Scottish Government daily briefings during the May elections.

“You know I don’t mean any of this, I only tease him.”

Ms Sturgeon insisted that what the BBC decided to broadcast is a matter for the corporation, but added that she was “not going to stop doing” her job.

She insisted that ministers still have to carry out their responsibilities to the public during election campaigns.

“How we take account of the election campaign will become clear as we go along, but we’re not there yet.

“We are in this pandemic,” she said, “and that will continue to be what I focus on.”

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