Covid inquiry: Stephen Flynn says Scottish Government’s Covid WhatsApp messages ‘starkly different’ to Boris Johnson's Government

The SNP Westminster leader has defended Humza Yousaf and the Scottish Government, saying the content of submitted WhatsApp messages will be “starkly different” to those made public at the UK Covid inquiry

A woman whose husband was in a care home during the early stage of the Covid-19 pandemic said she was made to feel like a "nuisance" by staff, an inquiry has heard.

The SNP’s Westminster leader said revelations at the inquiry have already shown the public was treated with “complete contempt” by officials in London during the pandemic.

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It comes after Humza Yousaf admitted the Scottish Government had interpreted requests from the inquiry for WhatsApp messages sent during the pandemic “too narrowly”.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn speaks in the House of Commons. Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica TaylorSNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn speaks in the House of Commons. Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn speaks in the House of Commons. Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

However, the First Minister rejected claims from opponents that he had deliberately misled Holyrood about the timeline of his Government’s dealings with the inquiry.

Asked about the WhatsApp messages by the BBC, Mr Flynn said: “What I would like to know, and I think the public would like to know, is why there is such a focus on the process here – not necessarily the content of the messages.

“Because I would imagine, I’d be quite confident, that the content of those messages will be starkly different than what we’ve seen from Westminster politicians. Who of course treated the public with complete contempt during the Covid pandemic.”

On Thursday, Mr Yousaf and Deputy First Minister Shona Robison were accused of misleading Holyrood in their explanations of how the Scottish Government handled requests from the inquiry.

Ms Robison was forced to release a timeline of events on Wednesday, confirming requests for WhatsApp messages had been made by the inquiry in February as opposed to September, as previously stated.

Mr Yousaf said he did not accept claims from the Scottish Conservatives that he “didn’t tell the truth”.

He said: “Where I do accept fully from the inquiry is that we have interpreted their requests too narrowly and subsequently having done so we have then supplied 14,000 messages to the inquiry.”

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Mr Flynn’s defence comes as Alina Duncan, from the Care Home Relatives Scotland group, told the Scottish Covid-19 inquiry on Friday that she was made to feel like a "nuisance" by staff while visiting her husband in a care home during the pandemic.

Her husband, James Duncan, known as Jim, was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia in 2008 when he was 55. He went into care in 2016.

Mrs Duncan told the inquiry it was difficult to keep in touch with her husband in the early stages of the pandemic because the care home did not have broadband.

Mrs Duncan said she "couldn't understand" why she was unable to see her husband.

She told the inquiry she called the care home every day for an update on Mr Duncan, but felt staff were not giving her enough information about him.

Senior counsel to the inquiry Stuart Gale KC asked Mrs Duncan: "Did you feel like a nuisance for phoning so much?"

Mrs Duncan responded: "Very much so. I was told on a few occasions: 'Look, we are very busy, we can't just answer the phone all day’."

The inquiry heard Mrs Duncan noticed a decline in standards at the care home. She did not see her husband for 17 weeks in 2020, she told the inquiry.



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