SCOTLAND’S national clinical director has been accused of "blurring the lines between ministers and government officials" after he defended Nicola Sturgeon for breaching strict Covid face mask rules during a campaign visit over the weekend. 

Speaking on the radio this morning, Professor Jason Leitch said the First Minister’s mouth had been uncovered for a “matter of seconds”. 

The Conservatives said it was inappropriate for the civil servant to be trying to justify the SNP leader's behaviour. 

They also said the clinician was “misrepresenting the Covid laws as they stood when Nicola Sturgeon clearly broke them at the weekend.”

The First Minister was reported to police after a video emerged of her appearing to flout Covid rules while campaigning in East Kilbride on Saturday.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon reported to police over alleged Covid mask breach

The SNP leader posted a video of herself wearing her usual tartan face mask while trimming a man’s beard at the Iconic Gents Hair barber.  

However other footage later emerged of her joking and pretending to cut someone’s hair in the same small space without a mask. 


While laws on masks have been relaxed today, at the time of the video they were still legally required “in most indoor spaces, including…hair salons, beauty and nail parlours, tattoo studios and any other indoor close contact service setting”.

A breach of the rules can result in a £60 fine.

Professor Leith was asked about the footage in an interview with the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland.

He said: “My understanding of that incident – I haven’t spoken to the First Minister today, I imagine I’ll speak to her later – my understanding is it was a matter of seconds, she realises the place is crowded, puts her face covering on, which is actually what we’re asking people to do. 

“The guidance says if you are in a crowded area, inadvertently or deliberately, then put a face covering on and that will protect you and others.”

Scottish Tory MSP, Craig Hoy hit out at the professor’s remarks: "It is inappropriate for a civil servant to defend Nicola Sturgeon in this way. These kinds of questions should be left to politicians to answer.

"Instead, SNP ministers are in hiding and Jason Leith is blurring the lines between ministers and government officials.”

He added:  "Mr Leitch is also misrepresenting the Covid laws as they stood when Nicola Sturgeon clearly broke them at the weekend.

"Face mask use was still in law until today but Mr Leitch backed up Nicola Sturgeon's excuse that she only had to put the mask on when in a crowded space.

"If the SNP had listened to us weeks ago and changed face mask rules from law to guidance, he and Nicola Sturgeon would have been correct. 

"But they failed to do this and Mr Leitch should not be confusing the public, or doing the SNP's job for them, by trying to defend Nicola Sturgeon in this manner."