WHILE sincere condolences are conveyed to Richard Allison (Letters October 28) and all who lost loved ones, the apparent faux outrage expressed by some over the unavailability of personal social media messages will not delude the Scottish public.

All who have soberly followed the course of decisions made during the Covid-19 pandemic know that the SNP-led Scottish Government of Nicola Sturgeon was immediately serious about confronting the pandemic with the aim of minimising the predicted devastating consequences while the Tory-led UK Government of Boris Johnson acted as if the unfolding tragedy was not a major health concern and continued to party.

Of course, all relevant material and any informative background material available should be delivered to both the UK inquiry and the Scottish inquiry (note that the Labour-led Welsh Government, which also has devolved health responsibilities, is not even conducting an inquiry). That said, unless it is established that significant decisions were made via social media, as seemingly may have been the case with Mr Johnson’s Government, the lack of personal WhatsApp messages released to date by the Scottish Government appears, to a large extent, to be a red herring.

It is right and proper that grieving families be given full and complete answers to questions posed, but relatively minor distractions amplified by false claims and exaggerated language will not help to provide those mourning their loved ones with the answers they rightfully deserve.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

• THE inquiry is hardly a week gone and I see the SNP detractors are already baying for blood and finding guilt where none has been proved.

I think we need to be very careful about what we say and who we say it about. Professor Jason Leitch was, in my view, open, honest and plain-speaking to the extent that he was often interviewed by the national news to give an ordered, calm and educated view.

There is nothing to suggest that when and if he appears at the inquiry he will not be just as frank with little obfuscation.

Can we, maybe, hear what he has to say before throwing him under a bus?

Ken Mackay, Glasgow.

SNP's sleekit performance

I AGREE wholeheartedly with Richard Allison's comment except for the one point, that the SNP's deleted and sleekit handling of the Covid pandemic evidence "would not be forgotten". Unfortunately, I believe it will be as with the missing/redacted/deleted evidence in the Salmond inquiry. The fickle public will soon move on to the next "outrage" against Scotland as perceived by the SNP propaganda machine and those who have nationalists' selective memory loss.

We can only imagine the outrage had Boris Johnson deleted all his messages.

Allan Thompson, Bearsden.

Let's not have a witch hunt

WHY this ridiculous obsession with deletion of WhatsApp messages now sought by the Covid inquiry ("Deleting Whatsapp messages from pandemic ‘could be illegal’", The Herald, October 30)? It just encourages conspiracy theorists. The main purpose of the inquiry should surely be to learn what measures proved to be effective and what didn't, in order that we deal better with the next pandemic. It should definitely not become a witch hunt in order to pin the blame on medics and officials who were groping in the dark over an initially very deadly disease that our immune systems couldn't cope with.

It now appears that people could become infectious carriers for several days before they showed symptoms. Also that a significant amount of infection was airborne. Very hard to stop. Blame the disease, not the medics and care workers, and don't waste time rummaging through their waste paper baskets and text messages, when their emails and printed decisions are available to all.

Peter Gray, Aberdeen.

Read more: The SNP Covid cabal must not be allowed to escape scrutiny

It's decisions that really count

I REALLY can’t understand what all the fuss is about concerning non-disclosure of Scottish Government WhatsApp messages. Back in the days of landline phones, discussion would either take place in person or by phone, and it was illegal to tap phones without a warrant or to record calls without the agreement of both parties for personal use only. Why should WhatsApp messages be any different?

I must confess that I have never used WhatsApp, but if I had I would be reluctant to clutter up my phone’s memory with outdated messages, and it would seem that Professor Jason Leitch thought the same. Yesterday’s discussions, like yesterday’s phone conversations, are over and done with. All that should matter are the decisions made, not the discussions leading up to them. Throughout my working life, official meetings were always minuted, but the minute was a record of the decisions made and not who said what in the process of reaching them. However, if WhatsApp messaging continues to prove politically embarrassing, the answer is simple: don’t type your messages on a phone or anything else. Talk to one another in person or call them.

Rev David A Collins, Cupar.

Shades of Big Brother

IF two or more politicians have a conversation in a corridor or if some politicians and advisers chat in a pub, no record of what was said is kept. Why, then, should idle natters on social media such as Facebook or WhatsApp be maintained for posterity? Beats me. Surely official communications must be clearly separated from informal blethers on internet chatrooms. Or are we already in the Big Brother society?

Eric Begbie, Stirling.

Why language is important

WITH reference to the word "quisling", David Leask (Herald, October 28) stated that parties should expel people who use that kind of language ("We need to talk about a word that has no place in politics: quisling", The Herald, October 28).

My memory may be at fault but I seem to recall that the much-respected Tam Dalyell once dismissed the SNP as "just a lot of quislings".

The use of the word is just one example of the mindless use of labelled boxes as a means for evading reasoned argument.

In order to completely dismiss someone's opinions and refute their argument, just drop them into a box and attach your chosen label. Some convenient labels are communist, capitalist, right-wing, left-wing, anti-Semitic, fascist, undemocratic. These, and a few others, can be used to ward off any possibility of constructive discussion.

Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh.

Read more: Why would we want to look up to a country like the USA?

UN needs to work on ceasefire

THE calls for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war grow louder. The suffering on both sides so far has been horrendous and difficult even to contemplate.

But was there not a ceasefire in operation when Hamas launched its ferocious attacks on Israel on October 7? How can we possibly expect the Israelis to agree to another unless there is some kind of international cast-iron guarantee that Hamas will not do exactly the same thing again? Terrorists tend to take advantage of virtue-signalling liberal attitudes, as has been proven time after time after time. The UN should be working on that guarantee.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

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Treat Israel like Hamas

HAMAS has been rightly condemned for taking and holding more than 200 hostages from Israel. However, Israel is holding many foreign nationals hostage in Gaza by refusing to let them leave. Why is there no widespread condemnation of Israel for forcing such people to stay in areas being bombed by the Israeli defence forces?

Whether you are held hostage by Hamas or being held hostage by Israel in Gaza makes no difference; you are not free to leave and return home and your life is in danger.

The actions of Hamas are not unexpected as it is described by many governments as a terrorist organisation. Is it not about time that the same criteria were applied to the Israeli Government as it is indiscriminately bombing and murdering innocent civilians, much like Hamas did on October 7?

David Howie, Dunblane.

We must support the young

REFLECTING on the terrible situation in Israel and Palestine, I just wonder if we are in danger of ignoring what the children and young people in Israel and Gaza are experiencing. We talk of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and the effect that such events can have on childhood development.

Let's just hope that when peace does come, as it must, appropriate action can be taken to support all the young people, Palestinian and Israeli, in terms of their future health and development.

Ron Lavalette, Ardrossan.