NICOLA Sturgeon always claimed to be transparent but she has been caught deleting evidence and failing to tell the truth about it. Freedom of Information requests were apparently routinely and unreasonably withheld. She insists her government made no connection between the pandemic and her ceaseless independence crusade, yet there is clear evidence in July 2020 that it did.

Ms Sturgeon seems to have operated dictatorially or in a culture of cronyism rather than collegiately, behaving aggressively with other government ministers.

Ms Sturgeon, who once almost achieved celebrity status in Scotland, was heckled and booed as she arrived at the inquiry. Journalists used to discuss which significant UN body she'd head up after stepping down as First Minister, but certainly not now. With many uncomfortable truths emerging about her attitude to democratic processes and openness, her managerial style, and, let's be frank, her personality, she may well have been weeping for herself and her lost career at the Covid Inquiry.

Martin Redfern, Melrose.

The jury is still out

WITH the week's news dominated by the appearance of Nicola Sturgeon at the Covid Inquiry, one must question whether her evidence has provided any clearer answers for the relatives of those people who lost their lives during the pandemic and who should be uppermost in our minds.

On the face of it the relatives are no further forward but the evidence has cemented in our minds a picture of a government dominated by an individual and her cabal who were secretive and self-promoting to the detriment of the public at large.

The jury is still out on whether Nicola Sturgeon displayed genuine contrition but her tearful testimony may help to maintain her support in the eyes of those who inexplicably still think she is wonderful. The independence movement has certainly suffered a setback and it will take a clear-out at the top of the SNP to re-establish credibility and show that the Government is competent enough to resume the journey to separation. No one knows what is in store for Nicola Sturgeon but in the sordid world of politics anything can happen.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.

Read more: Alister Jack: Nicola Sturgeon 'could cry from one eye if she wanted'

Why should we trust GCHQ?

WHAT a big surprise: a former British spy chief isn't keen on independence and thinks the Russians will use it to damage Britain("Ex-spy chief reveals why Russian cyberwar could exploit divisions in Scotland", January 28). I think the UK's power structures are perfectly capable of damaging the interests of the UK public without any Russian help.

Why should anyone in Scotland trust GCHQ? I am sure there are some important things it does at great cost. But its job is to protect the interests of the British state and the institutions that sustain it. There is nothing remotely neutral about it. It will protect and promote those interests irrespective of whether that state is conducting illegal wars, supporting appalling war crimes, undermining human rights, promoting shameful levels of inequality.

Obviously one of the greatest threats to the UK state is Scottish independence. This is certainly not a threat to the people of England. On the contrary it should be a stimulus to much-needed reform. But the freedom for Scotland to choose different values in its international role and in the quality of its economic and social democracy will undermine existing UK state strategies. Just contrast the admirable response of Ireland to the horrors being inflicted on Gaza to the shameful Rishi Sunak/Keir Starmer position.

Having the right to decide whether or not we should have 200 nuclear bombs on the Clyde is hardly a right that a former GCHQ head is going to support.

All states are now engaged in cyber activities relating both to their allies and their enemies. The US was caught out and had to apologise for hacking the phones of Angela Merkel and other supposed allies.

Any astute competitors or enemies now know that attacking strategic cyber systems is more damaging than the soldiers and tanks that old Army chiefs fantasise about. So cybersecurity is most certainly important, but it is not a crude excuse for seeking to undermine independence.

Isobel Lindsay, Biggar.

We can follow God and science

THERE are one or two things I don’t understand in Tom Gordon’s article asserting that Jason Leitch is facing more questions about his professionalism because he told people that prayer could bring healing to the sick ("Jason Leitch encouraged ‘prayer healing’ for the sick as Covid struck", January 28).

I confess I am not surprised that Professor Leitch, who professes to be a committed Christian, should comment, in the course of an online national prayer evening organised by an evangelical church organisation of which he is a member, which went out to a network of 161 churches, the members of which might be assumed to be favourably disposed towards, and possibly even familiar with the practice of prayer, that prayer might be a useful exercise for Christians to engage in when faced with a very dangerous disease.

My difficulty is with the confusing comments about the apparent distinction between religion and science. Mr Gordon refers to a “blurring of science and religion” and he quotes an unidentified Government source who seemed to think that "there is a difference between following God and following the science” (whatever that means), and an unidentified spokesperson for the Scottish Humanist Society who seemed to think that it is “very important that Government representatives are able to distinguish between their professional roles and their faith position” which is “especially true where scientific reality may differ from religious beliefs”. Such sweeping comments call for clarification. What is meant by the blurring of science and religion? Can the two not co-exist in harmony? What exactly is the difference between following God and following (the) science? Can someone who believes in God not be a scientist, or vice-versa? Where does scientific reality differ from religious belief? The article has the flavour of a rehearsal of the old myth that there is conflict between Christianity and science.

When David Hutchings and Tom McLeish wrote a book entitled Let there be Science: Why God Loves Science and Science Needs God, it provoked fury among some scientists, one of whom, the redoubtable atheist Professor Jerry Coyne wanted to know "What the (expletive deleted) is a theist doing in that position?", the theist being the late Professor Tom McLeish, then Professor of Physics at Durham University, Fellow of the Institute of Physics, Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and Fellow of the Royal Society. And the position he held? Chair of the Royal Society’s Education Committee. He was one of a multitude of eminent scientists who found no conflict between their faith and their professional role.

RC Fullarton, Kilmarnock.

The Herald: Jason LeitchJason Leitch (Image: PA)

Prayer call not surprising

CIRCUMSTANCES arise which remind individuals of their mortality and, in response, people, including those who profess no religious faith, frequently turn to prayer.

This is not restricted to individuals. Four days after he was appointed Prime Minister in May 1940, Winston Churchill approved a National Day of Prayer and there were further days of prayer throughout the Second World War.

During the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic there was widespread fear as to what the impact would be and how many people would die. While since the Second World War society has changed and church membership is much lower, many people instinctively felt drawn to prayer.

In this context, it is not surprising that at a very early stage in the pandemic in March 2020, the Baptist Union of Scotland, a long-established and mainstream Christian denomination, organised an online prayer meeting.

It is also not surprising that, Professor Jason Leitch, as a member of the denomination and a senior civil servant with expertise in public health, was invited to speak at the meeting and to offer a prayer.

It is astonishing that this could be considered news. Nothing that he said appears to be controversial and his prayer, part of which is reported verbatim, is uncontentious.

The article includes critical quotes from the Scottish Humanist Society (as may be expected) and, more worryingly, from an anonymous “government source” both suggesting that he should not have participated in the event since science is incompatible with religious beliefs. That is not a view that would be accepted by the huge number of scientists who are also Christians.

I wonder why you chose to run this non-story. I can only assume that Christian faith is anathema to those in Scotland who promote so-called "progressive views".

George Rennie, Inverness.

Read more: We are sick of being collateral damage in the Left's thrust for power

Time to ban all vaping

I NOTE that the Scottish Government is to follow Westminster in banning disposable vapes. It should take the lead by banning all vaping completely in Scotland as the inhalation of any particle smoke is dangerous and damaging to the breathing function and lung tissue.

Vaping products should only be available strictly by prescription from your doctor as a means of helping people to stop smoking cigarettes.

Dennis Forbes Grattan, Aberdeen.

The problem with green taxes

ACCORDING to the International Energy Agency UK electricity prices have risen faster here than in almost any other developed country since 2019 and are now among the highest in the developed world. Citizens Advice has found that more than two million people across the UK will disconnect at least once a month from their prepayment gas and electricity meters because they cannot afford to top up.

A report from the House of Commons library says the UK's spike has been driven by green taxes and levies linked to Net Zero. These add 19 per cent to electricity bills and 7% to gas bills plus VAT of 5%. These should be removed from energy bills and a green tax of 20 per cent introduced on tickets costing over £200 for theatres, music festivals and sporting events which all create multi-thousands of tonnes of additional greenhouse gases.

Tickets for Taylor Swift concerts range from £500 to £4,000. Green taxes must be paid by those who can afford them, not the businesses and households already struggling to make ends meet.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.