HEALTH Secretary Jeane Freeman has been accused of potentially breaking the ministerial code after she revealed confidential vaccine details.

The Scottish Government was forced to remove its vaccine delivery plan hours after it was uploaded online as it contained sensitive commercial information on supplies of the jag.

Yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon said her Government’s plan, which was published on Wednesday evening, was taken down due to issues with “commercial confidentiality”.

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The 16-page document set out the supply of vaccine from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna that it expects to receive each week – with targets to vaccinate 400,000 people per week from the end of February.

The detail on supply figures is understood to have angered ministers in Westminster, who said publication of the UK’s numbers would lead to suppliers coming under pressure from other countries.

On Wednesday, Ms Freeman revealed a vaccine location that Scottish Government officials insisted “should not be reported” because of “security protocols around Covid-19.”

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The Scottish Conservatives have now warned the Health Secretary may have broken the ministerial code and have written to the First Minister, calling on her to investigate whether the code has been broken.

Ms Freeman said she expects Ms Sturgeon to take the matter seriously and stressed that there was no malice in the "mistake". She has also apologised personally to the UK Health Secretary.

The ministerial code states ministers must respect the “confidentiality and security” of government business because “failure to maintain good security can cause damage to the interests and reputation of the government.”

Scottish Conservative health spokesman, Donald Cameron, said: “There is a clear case that the ministerial code may have been broken by the failure to properly respect the confidentiality of sensitive information.

HeraldScotland: Health Secretary Jeane FreemanHealth Secretary Jeane Freeman

“The SNP Government itself has admitted they got this wrong. They asked journalists not to report a secret location, the Covid plan was removed within hours and the First Minister acknowledged the flaws in publishing restricted supply figures.

“These multiple blunders in the space of 24 hours have risked shaking public confidence in the government’s handling of the Covid vaccine.”

He added: “These are not mere day-to-day gaffes, they are serious lapses of judgement. Repeated mistakes like this cannot be overlooked when so much is at stake.

“We need substantive information to be published but it has to meet the basic standard of not breaching the government’s own security protocols. At the moment, government officials have clearly stated that these supply figures are too sensitive to be in the public domain.”

Ms Freeman said the ministerial code is a matter for Ms Sturgeon to investigate. 

She said: “The bottom line on all of this is the decisions about whether any minister has broken the ministerial code are for the First Minister and I am absolutely confident that she will take any such assertion very seriously and look at it in some detail and make up her mind on that.” 

The Health Secretary also said that she has personally apologised to her UK counterpart, Matt Hancock, for the confidential material being made public. 

She said: “Whilst I regret we published information that the UK Government considers to be sensitive – and I’ve had those conversations with them and respect their view, we have withdrawn that information and the plan revised with that part removed, everything else there, is back up on our website.” 

Ms Freeman said that there was “no malicious intent” in the “error” that she said she was “accountable for”. 

She added: “It was done with the intention of being as transparent and open with the public about the information we hold in order to explain to them how we are going to roll out what is an absolutely critical vaccination plan. 

“I’m not minimising the seriousness of it in any respect at all. 

“We’ve apologised for that. I’ve apologised directly to the Secretary of State for Health in the UK – I spoke to him yesterday. 

“It has not damaged the relationships between myself and the Secretary of State at UK Government level or my colleages in Wales and Northern Ireland. I know that  because I spoke to all four of them last night.” 

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our priority is to be as transparent as possible, giving the public as much information as we can about the roll-out and delivery of the vaccine plan.

“We also take security very seriously, that is why we amended the vaccine plan, taking out sensitive information as soon as we were made aware of the issue.

“The First Minister will respond to Mr Cameron in due course.”