Alister Jack has poured scorn on Nicola Sturgeon’s tearful evidence to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry, saying “she could cry from one eye if she wanted to”.

The Tory Scottish Secretary also said he didn’t believe “for a minute” Ms Sturgeon’s claim to have put aside political considerations in her response to the pandemic.

The Dumfries & Galloway MP was giving evidence to the penultimate day of the Inquiry’s three-week stint in Edinburgh, when it has been looking at Government decision-making.

In her appearance on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon insisted that political advantage and the pursuit of independence had not been part of calculations when the virus struck.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon denies Covid decisions influenced by politics or Indy

Speaking under oath, the former first minister agreed her desire for independence ran through her “very core”, but said she had been able to put it aside in the crisis.

"None of those decisions were influenced in any way by political considerations or by trying to gain an advantage for the cause of independence," she said. 

“I was motivated solely by trying to do the best we could to keep people as safe as possible."

Ms Sturgeon also fought back tears at several points when speaking about the responsibility she felt at the time, and when people questioned her motives.

In his evidence, Mr Jack said there had been”mistrust” between the UK and Scottish governments, which reflected both Ms Sturgeon appearing to break the confidentiality of UK-wide COBRA emergency meetings, and fundamental political differences.

He accused the Scottish Government of “political manoeuvres” when managing Covid.

He said: “We would meet with them (the Scottish Government) and tell them what our plans were as we moved the rules and regulations.

“I felt that they absorbed the information and then worked out how they could do it, but just slightly differently. I feel that was a political manoeuvre on their part.”

He denied the UK and Scottish governments had been squabbling like children, but said: “My job is to go out and strengthen the United Kingdom and sustain the United Kingdom and I do that every day of my working life.

“[Nicola Sturgeon] saw her job as the leader of a Nationalist Government to break up the United Kingdom. That’s what the Scottish National Party exists to do.

“And so it was inevitable that there would be tensions. Devolution works very well, but it works very well when governments work together.

“When one government wants to destroy the United Kingdom and destroy devolution then there are tensions. 

“Those tensions existed before the pandemic, during the pandemic and they exist now today.”

READ MORE: Tearful Nicola Sturgeon wishes she hadn't been FM when Covid struck

Inquiry counsel Jamie Dawson KC asked Mr Jack about Mr Sturgeon’s “emotional” evidence the day before and her insistence that she was able to put aside her political convictions to prioritise on the health and safety of the people of Scotland.

Mr Dawson said: “Did your pre-existing assumption about her political convictions result in you failing to be able to believe she would do that?”

Mr Jack replied: “I watched that yesterday and I saw that passage and I didn’t believe it for a minute. I looked at that passage and I thought back in my experiences and I looked at her performance and I thought she could cry from one eye if she wanted to.”