Humza Yousaf promised to be “absolutely transparent” about WhatsApp messages while his Government was withholding 14,000 of them from the UK Covid Inquiry, it has emerged.

 The First Minister gave the commitment in an interview with broadcaster LBC in which he also incorrectly stated his Government had not been asked for the messages.

Last week, both Mr Yousaf and deputy First Minister Shona Robison  told Holyrood the government had been asked for Covid-era WhatsApps in September.

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However, after the Inquiry demanded a correction, the Government published a timeline on Wednesday which showed the first request was made in February.

The Scottish Government then initially withheld the messages on the grounds they were not an official record of decision-making.

Dissatisfied, the Inquiry pushed for more information and the Government confirmed there had been 137 Covid-related chat groups within the administration.

The Inquiry then asked - again - in September for the messages in these groups, and the Government finally shared all 14,000 of them on Monday of this week.    

Mr Yousaf today denied he or Ms Robinson had misled parliament by failing to mention the February request for WhatsApp messages explicitly.

However he did admit that the Government had interpreted the Beruary request for WhatsApp messages “too narrowly” at first, and apologised for the delay.

But this version of events appears at odds with what he told LBC on May 30 in an interview about the UK Covid Inquiry.

He said: “This Covid Inquiry has been set up to ensure maximum transparency to rightly scrutinise the decisions that were taken by politicians during an unprecedented era. 

“And so whenever we are asked for information on behalf of the Scottish Government, we will make sure that that is given to the UK Covid Inquiry, as well as of course, the Scottish Inquiry in good time, in as full and transparent a manner as we possibly can.”

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Despite his Government being asked for WhatsApp messages in February, when asked if it had been asked for information, he said: “Not WhatsApp messages, I don’t think so.

“But if that request, for example, came in then we should be absolutely open and transparent as we possibly can be.”

Asked if that would be the case for material related to his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon, he said: “Of course. I don’t doubt that she would be the first actually to say that we should be as absolutely transparent as we can in terms of the information and we have been.

“I mean, whatever information has been requested thus far from the UK Covid inquiry, we've been absolutely upfront and willing and cooperative.”