This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

Caroline Watt had not long left Macduff on a dolphin spotting boat trip when she dropped her mobile in the North Sea. 

"The sea was choppy and Caroline dropped the phone purely by accident," her husband Steve told The Sun last week.

The sinking of the Apple iPhone 12 Pro in August 2021 came just days after Coleen Rooney’s lawyers had asked for access to the device so that they could see if there were any WhatsApp conversations with her client, Rebekah Vardy, that might show her discussing the possibility of selling stories about her fellow Wag to the press. 

But with the phone somewhere on the seabed somewhere off the coast of Aberdeenshire, the messages were unable to be used as evidence in the multimillion pound "Wagatha Christie" libel case. 

Interestingly, the lack of direct evidence saw Ms Rooney’s legal team rely on the precedent set in Armory v Delamiriea, a 1722 ruling involving a chimney sweep, a jeweller and a found jewel. 

When a boy found a piece of jewellery while cleaning a fireplace he took it to be valued, the jeweller removed the gems leaving behind the empty sockets.

The precedent in the case was that if the court can tell that evidence is missing, then the assumption should be that what is missing is of the highest possible value that would fit the hole. 

There’s no shortage of holes when it comes to the Scottish Government’s engagement with the UK Covid Inquiry.

We know from Jamie Dawson KC’s statement last week, that "informal communications" were being used by "key decision makers" in Scotland to "discuss advice received in relation to the pandemic and to discuss the nature of the decisions which the Scottish Government might have to take".

We also know that there were 137 messaging groups, involving 70 possible witnesses.

The problem for the inquiry is that "very few messages" from the 28-month period being looked at by the probe "appear to have been retained". 

Some in the government even appear to have deleted their WhatsApps daily, using the handy "disappearing messages" function.

The Herald:
While there was a do not delete notice that was issued by the UK inquiry last summer, we actually knew there was going to be a Scottish inquiry on 24 August 2021 when it was formally announced in Holyrood.

In fact, Ms Sturgeon and her ministers were promising to co-operate fully with any probe as far back as April 2020. 

"If it is [an inquiry] we will of course take part in that freely and openly – about how the governments of the UK have responded to this pandemic, and decisions that have been taken, the basis of those decisions, the various factors that have come into play," the then health secretary Jeane Freeman said during a daily Covid briefing.

Read more:

UnspunAsh Regan leaps into the abyss... the SNP won't jump in after her

"Of course, there will be a public inquiry into this whole crisis and every aspect of this crisis," Ms Sturgeon told MSPs in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament the very next month. 

Given that we knew then for sure that there would be a public inquiry and given that we could probably have guessed as much when Ms Sturgeon told the country "life will change significantly" on March 17 2020, it’s hard to understand why messages have not been retained.

You can understand why opposition parties think there’s something of a coverup here. 

Now Humza Yousaf and the Scottish Government have repeatedly argued that there is no "culture" of making decisions on WhatsApp and that those processes were formally recorded in the proper way. 

But that’s not the point. 

What we’ve learned from Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain’s appearance at the UK Covid Inquiry is that the informal communications of key decision-makers matter.

They tell us about the chaos and the struggles in Whitehall. They give us the context for the decisions that were taken. The decisions that were taken came out of those conversations. Those conversations are relevant, as Jeane Freeman pretty much said back in April 2020.

In recent weeks, the Scottish Government has argued that they need legal cover in order to release what material they do have – though that has been disputed.

Sign up for Unspun, Scotland's top politics newsletter – sent to your email every weekday evening.

Nevertheless, this order, known as a Section 21, has been issued, and on Tuesday, Deputy First Minister Shona Robison confirmed that 14,000 messages would be sent over to the inquiry. 

But the key point here is that it can only hand over the messages that still exist.

On Tuesday night, Ms Sturgeon was repeatedly asked if she had deleted her WhatsApp messages. She refused to say. 

She promised "full transparency" and insisted she had nothing to hide. But she claimed she couldn’t answer because of the inquiry’s rules. 

The Herald:
Humza Yousaf has already made clear that he has kept his WhatsApp messages. We’re not even talking about the content just now, only the existence. 

But there was one line in the question and answer session that seemed to hint that maybe some messages had been deleted. 

Asked if she had any WhatsApps and if they would be submitted to the inquiry, she replied: "I will be very clear to the inquiry what I hold, what I don't hold and why that is the case".

It doesn't take Coleen Rooney to work out that what she does not hold and why might end up being very relevant indeed.