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Nicola Sturgeon insists she has 'nothing to hide' from COVID inquiry after reports WhatsApps deleted

Nicola Sturgeon has insisted she has "nothing to hide" from the COVID inquiry, as questions continue to swirl about whether WhatsApp messages she sent and received during the pandemic were deleted.

It was reported over the weekend Ms Sturgeon's data from the messaging service had been destroyed, alongside other members of the Scottish government, including the current first minister, Humza Yousaf.

The Scottish government pledged on Tuesday to hand over 14,000 messages to the inquiry.

But it is not clear to what extent this will cover the communications to and from Ms Sturgeon.

COVID inquiry latest: Johnson's final message to Cummings revealed

Matters were not cleared up by Ms Sturgeon herself when she spoke to journalists.

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She referred to a published policy document which said "business conversations" through informal channels should be deleted "at least monthly" once decisions were logged officially.

Ms Sturgeon said she "did not manage the COVID response by WhatsApp" - on the same day the COVID inquiry exposed the myriad messages and groups on WhatsApp used by the UK government.

Read more:
Key WhatsApp messages from the COVID inquiry
No 10 in 'complete chaos' as COVID hit - Cummings

"I have nothing to hide - I am committed to full transparency to this inquiry and to the Scottish inquiry when it takes place, and I'm committed to that in the interests of everybody across this country who was affected by COVID," she said.

"I gave my all to the management of the pandemic.

"Transparency for the families affected, by everybody affected by the pandemic, matters really a lot to me."

Jamie Dawson KC, the inquiry's lawyer for the Scotland module, said last week that no messages had been received from the country's government.

The deputy first minister, Shona Robison, said a legal order was required before the request could be complied with, and that the 14,000 message would be provided in full and unredacted form by 6 November.

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But Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross claimed "the stench of secrecy from this government is overpowering".

He added: "This hastily-arranged Nicola Sturgeon press conference followed a familiar pattern to all those she's held since leaving office: 'I've done nothing wrong but I'm not answering your questions'."

Scottish Labour's deputy leader, Jackie Baillie, claimed messages had been "destroyed on an industrial scale".