WHILE many people may have taken what the politicians presenting the daily “Sturgeon show” said with a pinch of salt, I am sure that they would have given more credence to health professionals such as Jason Leitch and Gregor Smith, who were advising us of what was happening with the virus and what measures we should take to keep infection rates down.

Who can forget being told that if we were sitting down to have a meal, we could leave masks off but if we stood up to go to the toilet, we should don a mask? The rules sounded ridiculous at the time with many of us asking if the virus worked differently at higher altitude.

To read now that not only did our current First Minister, Humza Yousaf, need to clarify the rules with Jason Leitch on when he had to wear a mask but that he was then informed of how to avoid having to wear one ("Want to beat your own mask rules? Keep a drink in your hand at all times", The Herald, January 24) is a slap in the face to every single one of those who stuck to the rules, who were forbidden from visiting family members in care homes, who were not allowed to sit beside their loved ones as they passed away and who had to sit two metres away from one parent at the funeral of the other. This inquiry is revealing how we were taken for fools and how those who set the rules did not take them seriously themselves and worst of all in my opinion deleted their messages to hide the fact they were doing so.

I take my hat off to those who did not delete their messages and provided copies to the inquiry. They deserve our thanks. What I take from the inquiry at this stage is that, should there ever be a similar situation in the future, we will not be as compliant. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.

Read more: Covid Inquiry: Scottish Ministers ignored advice not to close schools

These messages are important

W THOMPSON (Letters, January 24) undoubtedly is absolutely correct that the UK Covid Inquiry is not following its remit to examine the UK’s response to and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, it focuses on WhatsApp messages, private emails and minutes of meetings.

So, too, is Stan Grodynski (Letters, January 24) absolutely correct that too many seem intent on scurrilously attempting falsely to equate the modus operandi of former FM Sturgeon and former PM Johnson, two radically different leaders.

But both studiously avoid rather than inadvertently miss the point.

For a large part of the time Mr Johnson was suffering from Covid and its longer-term effects. Never a details man at the best of times, it hardly helped. But Mr Johnson stated at the outset of the inquiry that his private messages should be made available.

And it is precisely because the UK Inquiry was eventually able to winkle out these and other private messages of those ruling us at UK level that we got closer to knowing the true background, including the infamous comment “let the bodies pile high” attributed to Boris Johnson.

So feted for her grasp of detail, Nicola Sturgeon was “unable to recall” (and variations thereof) to respond to 100-plus questions put to her at the Salmond committee hearings in March 2021 which found 5:4 that she had misled parliament.

Contrary to her promises on TV (C4 News, August 2021) that she would make all her WhatsApp, private emails and minutes available to the inquiry, we now know that was not truthful.

But it is precisely because the inquiry is focusing on these messages that we now know Jason Leitch told Humza Yousaf how to get round the rules; that Ms Sturgeon told Devi Sridhar how to get round protocols in messaging; and we now know from minutes of meetings prised from SNP fingers that Ms Sturgeon, on the very day she castigated a journalist for daring to ask if she was using Covid for political gain, had discussed at a meeting how to re-boot the independence campaign in the middle of and using the pandemic chaos.

So, yes, both Mr Thompson and Mr Grodynski are correct that the inquiry is wasting its time focusing on the private messaging of those in charge. Hopefully, however, the relatives of those bereaved and electorate at large will be asking ever more loudly and persistently why the inquiry is having to do so.

Alasdair Sampson, Stewarton.

The Herald: Steven Camley's takeSteven Camley's take (Image: Newsquest)

Why was Sridhar so involved?

ON Tuesday, Devi Sridhar gave evidence to the UK Covid Inquiry and when asked what one mistake was made by the Scottish Government that we could learn from Professor Sridhar responded: "I think the biggest mistake was around testing." Has it really taken her more than three years to realise this?

On September 1, 2020 I wrote to you stating: "If, rather than just delivering daily doom-laden projections, the Scottish Government had organised and carried out more testing from the outset then we might now have some actual clinical evidence upon which to make informed decisions going forward." Earlier that same year, you reported on Hugh Pennington's evidence to the Holyrood health and sport committee ("Coronavirus: Hugh Pennington: Mistakes made over testing, PPE and care homes, The Herald, April 28) in which Professor Pennington criticised Scotland's leaders for "not putting enough emphasis on testing" right from the start.

The fact that Prof Sridhar, someone with little if any actual clinical experience, has only now belatedly come to realise that testing was of key importance leads me to question how she came to be appointed to such a leading role in combating the pandemic in Scotland in the first place, especially when the foremost infectious diseases expert in Scotland at that juncture, Prof Pennington, was left on the sidelines. Could it be that Prof Pennington, who was a vocal opponent of independence, did not fit the political mould of the Scottish Government in early 2020 and that Prof Sridhar's political views more closely matched those of the then First Minister? I honestly believe there are two simple questions here that demand immediate answers: was Ms Sturgeon playing politics with Covid from day one and did the people of Scotland end up paying the price for this?

Michael Laggan, Newton of Balcanquhal, Perthshire.

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Feeding frenzy is shameful

I’VE been reading with interest the attacks on our former First Minister and a number of eminent Scottish medical experts by certain sections of the mainstream media and the usual suspects, including many unelected opposition list MSPs, with regard to the conduct of those who led us during the Covid outbreak.

This feeding frenzy seems to be mainly with regard to a lack of private WhatsApp messages being retained. I’m sure many Scots will see through this blatant political opportunism for what it is. Thousands of documents have been handed over to the Covid Inquiry.

The Covid outbreak was an unprecedented challenge for the entire world, not just Scotland, with no playbook to take from a cupboard. In Scotland, the First Minister provided frequent - usually daily - lengthy briefings followed by a lengthy question and answer session from the press. Her conduct throughout was impeccable. And it seems to be universally accepted that the Scottish response was by far the best of the four UK nations.

With the benefit of hindsight, I am sure things may well have been different but we cannot turn the clock back. There was no malice, greed or corruption and those in charge did what they thought was best at the time.

I realise those without scruples seek political gain and political expediency from any situation. We can however, be reassured that in Scotland there was no evidence of illegal trips to Barnard Castle, no Partygate scandals making Downing Street party central and the postcode with the most fixed penalty notices issued in the UK, no VIP lanes for MPs' friends and families, no £39 billion failed track and trace and no multi-million-pound PPE corruption scandals.

The WhatsApp messages are all that they were left with.

Stewart Falconer, Alyth.

Read more: Are we really comparing Johnson and Sturgeon? Seriously?

Spare us from another quango

HAVING given up on a major restructuring of social care the Government is proposing a new body to oversee national standards ("Concerns voiced over social care cost", The Herald, January 24).

Such a body, the Care Inspectorate, already exists to monitor, inspect and report on care standards so there is no need for the expense of yet another quango.

The real issue in terms of care is the Government's failure to adequately fund care services to meet the needs of an ageing population and until this is tackled the situation will continue to deteriorate no matter what standards are introduced.

Bill Eadie, Giffnock.