Nicola Sturgeon is to give evidence next week at the UK wide public inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic.

The former first minister will be quizzed on the Scottish Government's response to the crisis on Thursday morning in London.

John Swinney, the former deputy first minister, is also due to appear before the panel the same day, while former health secretary Jeane Freeman will give evidence the previous afternoon.

Catherine Calderwood, who was forced to resign as chief medical officer for Scotland for breaking lockdown rules by travelling to her holiday home, will be questioned on Wednesday morning.

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The UK Covid-19 Inquiry was launched by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in May 2021 and covers decision-making during the pandemic in both Westminster and the devolved administrations.

Ms Sturgeon was the public face of the response to coronavirus in Scotland and appeared on regular televised media briefings throughout lockdown.

The UK wide public inquiry began hearing evidence as part of its first investigation into the UK’s preparedness and resilience for a pandemic on June 13.

Six weeks of public hearings in front of the inquiry chair Baroness Heather Hallett are planned in what is known as module 1 of the probe. They are due to continue until July 20.

The overall inquiry has no formal deadline but is due to hold public hearings across the UK until at least 2025.

According to the National Records of Scotland, as of June 18 this year, there have been a total of 17,680 deaths registered in Scotland where Covid 19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Ms Sturgeon is likely to be asked next week about what preparations the Scottish Government made in advance for a pandemic.

She will also face questions during the inquiry about the timing and rationale for lockdowns throughout the crisis and over her administration's decision to transfer hospital patients who had tested positive for the virus into care homes.

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An official report found that 113 Scottish hospital patients who had tested positive for coronavirus, without later testing negative, were transferred to care homes in March, April and May 2020.

A further 3,061 were sent from hospitals to care homes in the period without being tested.

Earlier this month solicitors representing bereaved families in the Scottish and UK Covid-19 inquiries demanded clarity on whether Ms Sturgeon’s WhatsApp messages were relevant.

It comes as a transparency row erupts between the UK inquiry and the Westminster government after WhatsApp submissions from senior aides had been redacted.

Counsel acting on behalf of Scottish ministers said Ms Sturgeon did not have any relevant informal correspondence – which could include private messages, emails or diaries – that were relevant to the handling of the pandemic.

Aamer Anwar, lead solicitor for the Scottish Covid Bereaved group, said it should be a matter for inquiry officials to determine what information is considered relevant.

The group has made further legal submissions to the UK Covid Inquiry calling for all unredacted WhatsApp messages and other relevant materials to be provided.

In a statement, he said a request “should be made of Scottish ministers to provide to the inquiry any communications held by informal means in order that the primary relevance test can be carried out by this inquiry”.

Mr Anwar said: “The Government is and should be answerable to the people, this applies to both the Scottish Government as well as the UK Government.

“We were advised by the Scottish ministers’ counsel that Nicola Sturgeon has advised them she does not have such informal messages – i.e. WhatsApp messages.

“Today we have sought full clarity from the UK and Scottish Inquiry as to what has happened to Ms Sturgeon’s WhatsApp messages, and why they are not being disclosed in their entirety.

“Ms Sturgeon and other Scottish ministers should be in no different of a position to that of Mr Johnston, Rishi Sunak or Matt Hancock, the job of establishing the relevance is a matter for this inquiry.

“We have said before and say it again, no individual, no matter how powerful, can be allowed to interfere with the pursuit of truth, justice and accountability in this inquiry. Those who lost their lives to Covid-19 deserve nothing less.”

Among those who have already given evidence include Jeremy Hunt, the UK health secretary, and former prime minister David Cameron.

A separate inquiry focusing on the Scottish Government's handling of the pandemic has yet to hold any public hearings.