Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf is due to give evidence to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry amid ongoing scrutiny over messages exchanged by ministers and officials during the pandemic.

Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s use of private party emails is also likely to be examined as her former chief of staff Liz Lloyd gives evidence on Thursday morning.

A spokesperson for Mr Yousaf issued a statement earlier this week explaining his actions as former health secretary after the inquiry was shown a WhatsApp exchange he had with Scotland’s national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch in November 2021.

In the exchange, Mr Yousaf asked Prof Leitch about the rules around the wearing of masks ahead of an event he was attending.

The Herald: Professor Jason Leitch gave evidence to the inquiry earlier this week regarding an exchange with Humza Yousaf in 2021 (PA)Professor Jason Leitch gave evidence to the inquiry earlier this week regarding an exchange with Humza Yousaf in 2021 (PA) (Image: PA)

At the time, Covid rules in Scotland meant people would not have to wear a mask if they were sitting down to eat or drink, but would if they were moving around a bar or restaurant while not drinking.

Prof Leitch told Mr Yousaf to “have a drink in your hands at ALL times” then he would be “exempt” from wearing a mask, but he denied to the inquiry he had given Mr Yousaf a way to “get out” of obeying the mask rules.

READ MORE: Jason Leitch confirms he wiped pandemic WhatsApp messages

A spokesperson for Mr Yousaf later said the exchange “simply shows the then health secretary seeking specific, up-to-date guidance from a senior adviser to ensure he was complying with the Covid rules”.

The inquiry has also previously heard that Ms Sturgeon provided a public health expert with an SNP email address where she said she could be contacted “privately” alongside her official email during a discussion around a briefing paper.

The Herald: Liz Lloyd, left, is a former adviser to Nicola Sturgeon (PA)Liz Lloyd, left, is a former adviser to Nicola Sturgeon (PA) (Image: PA)

The Scottish Conservatives have since urged Ms Sturgeon to publish any emails to or from her SNP email account relating to Government business during her time in Bute House.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Dame Jackie Baillie has also written to Permanent Secretary John Paul Marks – Scotland’s top civil servant – asking what action he has taken to investigate the issue.

READ MORE: Scottish Ministers 'ignored advice not to close schools'

A source close to Ms Sturgeon told the PA news agency any emails relevant to the management of the pandemic she received in her private inbox “were passed to the Scottish Government”.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack had been due to give evidence on Thursday but inquiry chairwoman Baroness Heather Hallett said on Wednesday she hopes to call him next week and his inability to attend on Thursday was neither his fault nor that of the inquiry.

The inquiry is holding a series of hearings in Edinburgh as it probes the devolved administration’s response to the pandemic.