A WHISTLEBLOWING nurse who raised a series of grievances over how Covid-19 was being handled in Scotland has raised concerns over the legitimacy of the official inquiry into the pandemic - after she was rejected as a core participant.

Lesley Roberts, a former infection control nurse and trade union health and safety representative in the UK's largest health board has told Lord Brailsford he should be removed as chairman of the inquiry after being told she does not qualify as a core participant to the inquiry. She says she may not even be called to give oral evidence.

It forms part of deeper concerns from Ms Roberts over whether the Scottish Government is serious about getting to the bottom of how the handling of the pandemic went so wrong.

She raised a complaint against Nicola Sturgeon over corporate manslaughter to Police Scotland as part of a campaign to hold the Scottish Government to account for thousands of deaths since the start of the pandemic in March, 2020.

It is understood that later this week, two months after making the complaint to Cowcaddens police station in Glasgow she is due to give a statement to officers about the complaint. It comes after she wrote to the Chief Constable and the First Minister last week about what she believed was "procrastination" over pursuing the case.

Since the start of the pandemic, Ms Roberts raised 22 official internal complaints over how Covid was being dealt with.

Her past concerns were about unsafe masks, the use of Do Not Resuscitate orders and the disastrous decision to place elderly patients from hospitals into care homes.

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Core participants have a central role in public inquiries and can make statements when the inquiry holds public hearings, propose questions to ask witnesses and with permission ask questions.

But Ms Roberts, despite an appeal, was rejected as a core participant, and instead was invite to participate by entering a written witness statement.

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Ms Roberts has now raised new fears of a cover up over the inquiries into what went wrong in handling the pandemic.

The former Inverclyde Royal Hospital nurse has told Lord Brailsford in a hugely critical letter that she does not think that if she was not deemed to be a core participant that the inquiry is working fairly or impartially.

Her submission to the UK public inquiry, runs to 25 box folders of evidence and a 110 page statement.

Ms Roberts told Lord Brailsford that she had been invited to apply to be a core participant as the only union rep within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde who confronted and challenged serious issues over the handling of Covid in hospitals.

"If I do not meet the criteria for being a core participant, I do not think the inquiry is working fairly or impartially.

"As I am the only nurse who has reported the former Scottish First Minister to the police for corporate manslaughter it must raise issue as to the level of evidence that I possess.

"It is somewhat appalling that this level of evidence is simply not being deemed to be worthy of core participant status.

"I was directed by the Lord Advocate to raise serious concerns regarding what I believe to be have been corporate manslaughter. I stand by my views in this regard. I note that whilst myself and a former Crown Prosecutor reported our complaint almost two months ago the procrastination and lack of any movement has been somewhat evident.

"Given the terms of the complaint and the evidence that can be provided I find this astonishing and it must raise the question as to whether the government is being protected by the system."

She raised parallels with the whistleblower who triggered a police probe into the SNP's funding and finances saying there should be an inquiry into how the force 'dragged its feet' in pursuing the case.


"I would have hoped that human life... would have mattered more than a financial complaint. Money can be replaced, lives can't and the loss for many remains overwhelmingly emotional and distressing to this day," she said.

"As this information is now part of a live police investigation with a reference number and a chain of correspondence, it is only right and proper that this information is treated with the respect it duly deserves. If that is not the case I believe that this inquiry is fatally flawed.

"We need openness and transparency and somewhere that has been overlooked in Scotland.

"The truth needs to be told."

She told Lord Brailsford she "genuinely believed" her rejection as a core participant "calls your competency into question and at that point I would be campaigning fully for your removal from the chair".

Lord Brailsford was appointed to succeed Lady Poole after she quit the Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry in October, last year for personal reasons.


Lord Brailsford and Lady Poole

The Scottish inquiry was set up by Holyrood ministers and will run alongside the UK-wide inquiry.

Up to November, last year it has cost taxpayers more than £2m.

The probe has 12 strands, each covering a strategic element of the handling of the pandemic “to identify lessons to be learned and recommendations as soon as practicable”.

It will cover the period from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2022, but it will also consider pandemic planning undertaken prior to this.

It will investigate the decision to go into lockdown, the supply and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and how the virus was dealt with in care homes.

Care home deaths from Covid-19 were one of the biggest scandals in the early months of the pandemic, with both the UK and Scottish governments coming under scrutiny over their policies, which saw mass discharges from hospitals into care homes.

There were around 4,300 Covid-19 related deaths in care homes with around 1,900 of these occurring during the first 12 weeks of the pandemic.

In her appeal to Lord Brailsford, Ms Roberts explained: "I watched as my clinical role became at risk because I was a rep doing the role that I was elected to do. I can present evidence regarding copious public funded organisations who sat back and did nothing whilst the population suffered on an colossal scale. Whilst many did nothing, I chose to put my life on hold and challenge the system.

"My evidence will illustrate procrastination on a ridiculous level...

"Whilst the vulnerable were discharged into care homes, members were crying out for help to try and save those most vulnerable. Despite confronting and challenging dangerous decisions, the trajectory of inequality carried on.

"When you have staff put at risk and not given the PPE that protected them... it is concerning. Perhaps those most vulnerable and the terrified workforce should simply accept the inevitable that they were simply expendable.

"I did not go into nursing to watch patients being put at risk of death because it suited the agenda of the government and the NHS. The legal duty of care is not something that should simply be ignored."

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Families have previously told then Deputy First Minister John Swinney they felt "betrayed" by the inquiry, which they said had promised to keep them front and centre.

When Lord Brailsford was appointed as inquiry chairman he acknowledged the "enormous responsibility" of the role.

He added: "The public are rightly looking for answers and no more so than the loved ones of the nearly 16,000 people in Scotland who died during this pandemic.

"I promise the families, that along with the inquiry team, I will work independently to establish the facts and ensure the inquiry thoroughly examines the decisions taken throughout the pandemic."

A Covid inquiry spokesman said: “We do not comment on individual cases or applications. In general, however, where individuals or organisations wish to become core participants, we direct them in the first instance to our core participant protocol to consider whether they meet the relevant criteria. The core participant process has been open to all.

“It is not necessary to be a core participant to engage with the independent Inquiry. Where applications are not found to meet the requirements, it may be more appropriate for individuals or members of organisations to engage with the Inquiry through other means, for example by participating in the Inquiry’s listening project, Let’s Be Heard, which will be launched later this month.

“Let’s Be Heard will give everyone in Scotland the opportunity to share their experiences of the pandemic with the Inquiry. Any information provided to the Inquiry, through whichever avenue, will be considered and analysed by the Inquiry team to inform ongoing investigations and, where appropriate, the Chair’s report.”