AT last! A proper expert, Professor Mark Woolhouse, has now exposed how hopelessly out of their depth our so-called leaders were during the Covid crisis ("Advice to avoid the NHS ‘led to hundreds of deaths’", The Herald, January 25), including the hapless then Chief Medical Officer and her equally hapless deputy.

We cannot turn the clock back, but at least we can put to rest Michael Gove’s outrageous and despicable comment that “we have had enough of experts”.

Perhaps, next time, someone will listen.

John NE Rankin, Bridge of Allan.

Politics was paramount

STEWART Falconer (Letters, January 25) misses the point about the WhatsApp messages. Their significance lies in the concerted endeavour of those in charge of the Covid response to delete them so that they could not be accessed, whether by a Freedom of Information request or otherwise. It is not only the ineptness of the SNP regime’s management that has been revealed - devastatingly, by the testimony of Professor Mark Woolhouse, epidemiologist - but the dishonesty of that regime.

The most depressing and worrying aspect of it is that this was not merely on the part of politicians, of whom we have rather low expectations, but that supposedly-neutral civil servants have been shown to have been anything but. But what else can one expect from a system whose chief medical advisers in a pandemic were a gynaecologist, a dentist and a GP? Comparable in calibre with Professors Chris Whitty, Patrick Vallance and Jonathan Van Tam, the UK’s expert advisers, they were not. The political motive seemed to be paramount at all times, with Professor Hugh Pennington, the outstanding expert in virology in Britain, anathematised by the SNP regime because he had been involved in the Better Together campaign in 2014. Were these the kind of choices made by any of those countries with which SNP propagandists routinely try to compare Scotland?

Mr Falconer trots out the "£39 billion failed track and trace", which is an SNP propaganda staple. He needs to read the analysis of this subject, which shows that £37 [sic] billion was the total two-year budget allocated to track and trace, not the actual amount spent. Around £29.5bn was actually spent, overwhelmingly on testing. The moneys spent have been published and audited. Perhaps Mr Falconer thinks that there was something inappropriate about testing for the virus in the pandemic.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

Read more: This is a slap in the face to all who followed Covid rules

What happened to gratitude?

LIKE Stewart Falconer, I am appalled at finding the media, including these Letters Pages, awash with attacks on the politicians, medical professionals and civil servants who did their best to steer our nation, economy and welfare through the Covid pandemic.

While the admiration and gratitude of the Scottish public at the time was abundantly clear we are now being deluged with a barrage of indignation from armchair critics aimed at the Scottish Government and its advisers. Why are these “wise after the event” commentators so eager to destroy the reputations of anyone within or associated with the Scottish Government? If I had thought during my own professional life that my every word or deed was to be held on the record I would never have said or done anything. I found that the best outcomes resulted from operating on the basis that regulations existed for the obedience of the foolish and the guidance of the wise.

If all the deleted WhatsApp messages suddenly turn up, what difference will it make to anything?

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.

Let's all hold our fire

PERHAPS Michael Laggan and Alasdair Sampson (Letters, January 25) would have been better to hold fire for a day or two.

Evidence now presented shows that the SNP didn't even consider using Covid-19 to promote independence until the crisis was almost over, not "in the middle", as Mr Sampson so confidently wrote.

The lack of testing was well known to everyone but the UK and Scotland simply lacked the capacity to do so, due mostly to years of underfunding of the NHS. So the best of a bad job had to do. The political support or non-support of Professor Hugh Pennington or Professor Devi Sridhar in respect of independence had no influence on any decisions in this respect.

Maybe more evidence is still to come out, in the future, that will undermine what I've just written, but may I suggest we all hold our fire till more appropriate times?

Iain Cope, Glasgow.

The Herald: Nicola Sturgeon was furious with Boris JohnsonNicola Sturgeon was furious with Boris Johnson (Image: PA)

Foul play by Sturgeon

I SUSPECT that I am far from being alone in being shocked by the report of the former First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, describing the then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, as a f****** clown ("Nicola Sturgeon branded Boris Johnson a 'f****** clown'", heraldscotland, January 25). That is grossly offensive to clowns. Ms Sturgeon would be well advised to keep well clear of circuses for the foreseeable future as I am sure that clowns are rather better at remembering things than she seems to be.

Alistair Easton, Edinburgh.

• COMPARED to what most of us were saying, Nicola Sturgeon’s description of Boris Johnson was exceptionally temperate.

David Rigg, Bishopton.

Don't talk down free services

ALISON Rowat, whose articles I enjoy, is way off base in attacking the First Minister for describing public services the recipient does not pay for as "free" ("Our First Minister and his forest of magic money trees", The Herald, January 24). I get regular prescriptions which I consider free since I don't pay for them. I also pay income and other taxes that make my own small contribution to the cost of providing public services in Scotland. The two things are not directly linked.

If I take advantage of a buy-one-get-one-free offer I get a free tin of beans, free because I haven't directly paid for it. The fact that the cost of that tin is accounted for somewhere in the shop's overall pricing system is not relevant. Indeed, I think it is sophistry to talk down important services delivered at no cost in Scotland that are paid for by the general tax system. Is this not fundamental to a fair, ie progressive, tax system?

Ms Rowat's knowledge of economics isn't required to understand that all public services are delivered at a cost. These costs are levied on the recipient at different rates, sometimes zero, ie free.

Sandy Slater, Stirling.

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Accentuate the positive

WHY did Tom Gordon's article ("More than a third of patients still waiting too long in Scotland’s A&E units", The Herald, January 24) not read "two-thirds of patients in A&E seen within targeted waiting times of four hours"? I suppose good news does not sell newspapers.

Tory health spokesperson Dr Sandesh Gulhane is quoted; he should take note that his party in England is unwilling to get round the table with junior doctors and avert any more strike days in NHS England. There have been no strikes in NHS Scotland, whose employees are the best-paid in the UK.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

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Indy sums are all-important

I NOTE an interesting article by Neil Mackay regarding independence ("SNP may be finished, but history is on indy's side", The Herald, January 25). However, nothing is inevitable and it didn't cover the main barrier to independence, doing the sums.

Alex Salmond's attempt was derailed by the question of currency. Nicola Sturgeon's series of documents didn't get any closer to answering this question or even any of the basic economic concerns Scots rightly want to know.

I support independence but wouldn't take a leap into the dark to gain it.

Igor Griffiths, Telford.

Israel was not the aggressor

FROM the very outset of his letter (January 24) Eric Melvin demonstrates that he has little grasp of historical accuracy. He cites that since 1948 Israel has aggressively extended its territory. I would advise him to refer to his history books to discover that contrary to his version, Israel in1948 was attacked by the surrounding Arab countries. Nor did Israel in 1948 occupy any West Bank territory, so please, where was Israel’s alleged aggression?

For the sake of historical accuracy Mr Melvin once again seriously needs to verify from his history books that Israel as a result of being attacked once again in 1967 by the surrounding Arab countries sustained a defensive victory and thereby found herself in occupation of the West Bank. Again Israel was no aggressor but came into possession of the West Bank as a direct result of Arab aggression.

Myer Green, Netanya, Israel.