A PUBLIC health expert has warned that the Scottish Covid inquiry risks being shrouded in unnecessary secrecy.

Professor Andrew Watterson, a public health researcher at University of Stirling, says trust in the transparency and rigour of recent inquiries and investigations has been damaged due to failures by some Scottish inquiry chairs and civil servants.

Writing in today's Herald, he says inquiries should be accountable to the public to maintain confidence but in the six months since Lady Poole’s appointment as chair, little new information has emerged regarding the shape of the investigation.

He says: "The inquiry has recruited Scottish Government health policy civil servants to its team. The inquiry needs to consult key pandemic players but not to be influenced unduly by them.

"If the inquiry secretariat contains civil servants from various Scottish Government departments – major players in the pandemic – maintaining neutrality and retaining independence from government in the public’s eyes could prove difficult and produce perceived potential conflicts of interest."

He adds: "The Scottish Government record of cooperation on investigations requiring access to information on important decisions in several recent inquiries and investigations has been seriously flawed."

The inquiry will scrutinise decisions that were taken over the course of the crisis, with the aim of learning lessons for any future pandemics.

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