Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to end her “bogus and pitiful stonewalling” and tell Holyrood whether she destroyed potential evidence to the UK and Scottish Covid inquiries.

Douglas Ross said the former First Minister should make an urgent statement on whether she had deleted WhatsApp messages and stop her “insult” to the bereaved. 

In a letter to Ms Sturgeon, the Scottish Tory leader accused her of a “lack of candour” and said she would “come clean” immediately.

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On Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon repeatedly refused to say whether she had kept WhatsApp messages dating from her time handling Scotland’s response to the pandemic.

She said she had “nothing to hide” and was “committed to full transparency”, but said her recent submissions to the UK Covid Inquiry were confidential.

After the Sunday Mail reported that she had deleted her WhatsApps, she said she would tell the UK Inquiry “what I hold, what I don’t hold, and the reasons for that".

However the Inquiry then confirmed that, while the content of Ms Sturgeon’s submissions was confidential for now, there was no gag on her talking to the press in general terms.

Her position was further undermined by First Minister Humza Yousaf and former Finance Secretary Kate Forbes revealing they kept and submitted their WhatsApps to the Inquiry after ignoring Scottish Government guidance on deleting old messages.

Mr Ross, who said at FMQs on Thursday that destroying potential evidence to the Inquiry was breaking the law, said Ms Sturgeon could no longer “hide behind process”.

He said: “Nicola Sturgeon cannot persist with her bogus and pitiful stonewalling in response to this vital, yet very simple, question.

“It’s an insult to those who lost loved ones during the pandemic for a former First Minister to hide behind process for refusing to say whether or not she deleted WhatsApp messages.

“Her ‘confidentiality’ excuse was already painfully weak, given the likes of Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes were happy to answer the same question.

“But the Covid Inquiry has now blown it to smithereens.

“What Nicola Sturgeon is reported to have done looks to constitute law-breaking, so she has to address this issue head on, either via a public statement or a personal statement in parliament.

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“It’s in Nicola Sturgeon’s own interests to belatedly provide clarity, if her already shredded reputation is to retain a semblance of credibility.”

 In his letter, a follow-up to one he sent on Monday, he told Ms Sturgeon: “The UK Covid enquiry (sic) has confirmed there are no restrictions on what witnesses can say to the media regarding their actions during the pandemic.

“Your lack of candour is an insult to those who lost loved ones in the pandemic. 

“It’s in the public interest that you immediately reveal once and for all whether you deleted messages and, if so, when.

“Did you delete them after you had announced that a [Scottish] Covid Inquiry would be established? Were the messages deleted before, or after, the Do Not Destroy Notice issued by the Scottish Government?”

The SNP has been asked for comment.

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Ms Sturgeon’s spokesperson said: “In the interests of everyone who has been impacted by the covid pandemic, Nicola is committed to full transparency to both the UK and Scottish Covid inquiries.

"Any messages she had, she handled and dealt with in line with the Scottish Government’s policies. 

“She will continue to provide all information requested by the inquiry that she holds and will continue to cooperate fully. 

“She has recently submitted her third written statement to the UK inquiry - running to around 200 pages - and expects to give oral evidence again next year when she will answer all questions put to her.”