Police Scotland takes 'no further action' on Nicola Sturgeon following face mask complaint

Police Scotland has said they reminded the First Minister of the importance of wearing a face covering and the First Minister has apologised.

It comes after Nicola Sturgeon was reported to the police after accusations she broke Covid laws on face coverings in indoor public places.

A video circulating on social media showed the First Minister without a mask on a visit to a barber’s in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, on Saturday during an election campaign trail.

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The law became guidance from Monday, with the public being encouraged to continue wearing masks.

The video shows Nicola Sturgeon not wearing a face mask in a public setting.

Police Scotland released a statement saying local officers have spoken to the First Minister to remind her of the importance of the then legal requirement.

The police said they are now satisfied with the measures and no further action has been taken.

In the video, Ms Sturgeon appears to be seen without a face covering as she mingles with customers and pats the head of a man in a barber’s chair while mimicking the sound of an electric razor.

Ms Sturgeon has said she recognised the action was an “error” on her part and has apologised.

In a statement, Nicola Sturgeon said: “On Saturday, while campaigning outdoors in East Kilbride I was invited into a local barber shop. After a few seconds of being in the shop, I realised I had forgotten to put my face covering back on. I then immediately put it on.

“However, I accept that not wearing a face covering even for a few seconds was an error on my part and I am sorry for that.

“Having received complaints about the matter, Police Scotland made contact with me. This is what they would have done with anyone else in these circumstances, and they were absolutely right to treat me no differently to any other citizen.

“I explained that the error was inadvertent and the police have confirmed that the matter is closed.”

The First Minister added: “While the law no longer requires face coverings to be worn, I will continue to do so in circumstances where this can help reduce the risk of infection, and I encourage everyone to do likewise.”

Reacting to the news, the Scottish Conservatives said the action taken by the police “seemed strange” as a “clear rule breach” had taken place.

Scottish Conservative MSP, Craig Hoy said: “We appreciate that the police have not chosen to be heavy-handed to people breaking the SNP’s rules, however, it seems strange not to take any further action considering this appears to be a very clear rule breach in commercial premises, where facemasks should have been worn.”

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Police Scotland said action taken by them was “in line with our proportionate approach throughout the pandemic.”

The matter was previously being assessed by Police Scotland after it was reported to them.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Local officers have spoken to the First Minister to remind her of the importance of wearing a face covering when there is a legal requirement to do so.

“Given the circumstances of this incident, Police Scotland is satisfied that no further action is necessary.

“This is in line with our proportionate approach throughout the pandemic.”

The National Clinical Director Jason Leitch came under fire from opposition members on Monday morning after defending the First Minister on the matter.

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland this morning, Professor Leitch said the First Minister’s actions were “actually what we’re asking people to do”, adding she realised within “a matter of seconds” she had to put a face covering on.

Criticising Professor Leitch, The Scottish Conservatives have said his remarks were “inappropriate” for him to make as a civil servant.

It comes as the Prime Minister enters another week primed to defend his premiership as he prepares to insist to MPs there are bigger issues to focus on than the partygate saga.

Despite being fined by the Metropolitan Police for his birthday bash held in the Cabinet room in June 2020, while coronavirus restrictions were in place, the Prime Minister is expected to tell MPs on Tuesday that this should not be the focus of politicians.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, is also expected to decide if to allow a vote on whether to refer Mr Johnson to the Privileges Committee – which would decide whether he had misled the House over his partygate explanations.

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