Nicola Sturgeon is under more pressure to explain her use of WhatsApp during the pandemic after it was revealed she transcribed zero messages to the Scottish Government’s record system – as did Humza Yousaf and other senior SNP ministers.

But the Scottish Government has stressed there is "no requirement for the form of communication to be recorded when saving information to the corporate record".

The former first minister admitted to the UK Covid Inquiry that she deleted her WhatsApp messages, despite going on to promise to hand everything over to the investigation.

Speaking at one of her media briefings during the pandemic in August 2021, Ms Sturgeon agreed that all communications made during the crisis would be disclosed to any future public inquiries, insisting that "nothing will be off limits" – including "emails, WhatsApps [and] private emails".

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon admits deleting Covid WhatsApp messages

She added: "Even if I wasn't prepared to give that assurance, which for the avoidance of doubt, I am, then I wouldn't have the ability [to do otherwise]. This will be a judge-led public inquiry."

But Ms Sturgeon had already deleted her messages at this point.

The inquiry has not received WhatsApp messages from Ms Sturgeon.

Appearing in front of the UK Covid Inquiry, Ms Sturgeon initially said she had not “retained” the messages before admitting under scrutiny that she had deleted her messages.

The former first minister told the inquiry that “anything of any relevance or substance from any of that material would be properly recorded in the Scottish Government system”.

But a Scottish Government response to a Freedom of Information request has revealed that Ms Sturgeon transcribed “zero” messages to the system.

The FoI request asked for a “monthly breakdown of the number of WhatsApp messages sent or received by former first minister Nicola Sturgeon which were transferred to the Scottish Government’s eRDM system” eRDM (Electronic Records and Document Management system).

But the response said that “zero” had been recorded.

Analysis: The Scottish Government, 'evading scrutiny' and Freedom of Information

Freedom of Information responses show that “zero” messages were also transcribed to the system by the current First Minister, former deputy first minister John Swinney, former health secretary Jeane Freeman and former finance secretary Kate Forbes.

Scottish Labour deputy leader, Jackie Baillie, has claimed Ms Sturgeon still has questions to answer following the revelation.

She said: “The culture of secrecy and cover-up at the heart of the SNP government is becoming more stark by the day.

“Nicola Sturgeon defended wiping her WhatsApp messages by claiming important information was retained on the record – but now it seems there isn’t a trace of any of them.

“This SNP Government still has huge questions to answer, including why it failed to live up to its promise of transparency.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, added: “One year on from Sturgeon’s resignation and it seems this SNP Government is running out of excuses.

“No messages were recorded, but the Scottish Government have tried to squirm out of saying so and giving straight answers. That evasiveness shows nothing but contempt for the bereaved families, to whom Nicola Sturgeon promised ‘nothing will be off limits.’

“One of the biggest scandals in Scottish political history is unfolding in front of us. If the First Minister has any shred of respect left for public life, she should heed my party’s calls to make a personal statement to parliament and stop dodging questions.”

Scottish Conservative chairman, Craig Hoy, said: “This latest eye-opening discovery surrounding Nicola Sturgeon’s use of WhatsApp raises further very serious questions for her.

“It looks as though the former first minister may well have misled the public inquiry and the public with her contradictory evidence. 

 “She boasted about leading the most transparent government ever, when the reality was one addicted to a culture of cover-up and keeping the public in the dark.

“Nicola Sturgeon owes it to grieving families to urgently explain why messages were not transferred as we know that formal decisions were taken on WhatsApp.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government has a well-established and overarching records management policy in accordance with the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 and assured by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland.

“As the FoI review makes clear, there is no requirement for the form of communication to be recorded when saving information to the corporate record.”

A spokesperson for Nicola Sturgeon said: “Any messages Nicola had, she handled and dealt with in line with the Scottish Government’s policies.”