Nicola Sturgeon has told the UK Covid inquiry she “perhaps shouldn’t have” given Professor Devi Sridhar her SNP email address.

The hearing saw messages between the pair where Ms Sturgeon gave Prof Sridhar her SNP email address as well as a Scottish Government email address.

However, critics have been raised by her action as party email addresses are not covered by freedom of information laws, unlike government ones, and therefore the move raises the possibility she may have been tyring to keep conversations out of the public domain later.

Last week the inquiry heard the former first minister spoke a number of times with the Edinburgh University academic through the course of the pandemic over direct messages on X, formerly Twitter.

Read more: Tearful Nicola Sturgeon wishes she hadn't been FM when Covid struck

In an exchange between the two in June 2020, Prof Sridhar – one of the country’s leading experts and most public academics during the pandemic – said she had prepared a note for the chief medical officer on “key steps to managing the outbreak in Scotland looking forward”.

She added that she was “happy to share a draft” but was unaware if that would “overstep or break protocol”.

Responding, Sturgeon said: “That would be helpful. (Don’t worry about protocol – tackling the virus more important than that and I’ll handle any issues on that front).”

She went on to tell the academic to send the information to her “privately”, providing an SNP email address or “officially” using her Scottish Government email address.

“Either way fine by me,” she added, in the screenshot of the message Prof Sridhar provided to the inquiry.

Ms Sturgeon, who went on to provide a mobile number at which she could be reached, continued: “Feel free to do so if you think there’s anything I’m not aware of or not adequately taking account of – or just getting wrong.

“I am extremely anxious about the fragility of the position just now – so very grateful for any advice.”
Asked today by senior counsel to the inquiry about her decision to send Prof Sridhar her SNP email.

Ms Sturgeon said:  “On reflection perhaps I shouldn’t have done that.
“But if I had been in any way trying to direct her to a private email address, I doubt if I would have put my government email address in there as well.”

Ms Sturgeon also told the UK Covid-19 inquiry that she used a personal phone to conduct government business.

She said she used a personal phone because she did not want to use multiple devices, due to the risks associated with losing a phone.

Mr Dawson KC put it to her if it was appropriate to do that not on a government-issued phone.

Ms Sturgeon said it had never been suggested to her that it was not appropriate.

The inquiry is questioning the former first minister in Edinburgh this morning and this afternoon on her government's management of the pandemic.

Many of the questions so far today have focused on missing WhatsApp messages from the former First Minister to other senior politicians and advisors.

Ms Sturgeon told the hearing she was not “particularly conscious” of WhatsApp groups where officials were exchanging information.

She said she had “never seen messages before” in which the senior official Ken Thomson reminded civil servants in the group chat where the “clear chat” function was and that “plausible deniability is my middle name”.

Ms Sturgeon said she saw the discussion as “light-hearted” and that she would read that as him reminding people to be professional on WhatsApp.

She added that the civil servants in the Covid outbreak group chat were public servants of the “utmost integrity”.