PRESS STATEMENT – 25TH JANUARY 2024 – SCOTTISH COVID BEREAVED ON LIZ LLOYD AND HUMZA YOUSAF EVIDENCE
PRESS STATEMENT ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE SCOTTISH COVID BEREAVED, ON THE DAY LIZ LLOYD AND FIRST MINISTER HUMZA YOUSAF GAVE EVIDENCE TO THE UK COVID INQUIRY.
Aamer Anwar-Lead Solicitor Scottish Covid Bereaved
“Saying we are co-operating is one thing, doing it, is quite another. The First Minister Humza Yousaf needs to stop acting like a cheerleader for his former boss Nicola Sturgeon- he needs to take control, stop drip feeding evidence to the public inquiry and handover all the private emails that Ministers used to bypass scrutiny during the pandemic.
Mr Yousaf must provide details on why he could retain his WhatsApps, whilst his former boss Ms Sturgeon was deleting them on an industrial scale along with Mr Swinney and Mr Leitch.
We know now from the evidence today despite claims to the contrary, Liz Lloyd, Chief of Staff to Nicola Sturgeon can provide no WhatsApps between her and Nicola Sturgeon prior to September 1st 2020- meaning that during the critical period of the pandemic for the first 10 months of 2020, the WhatsApps no longer exist- how very convenient for Ms Sturgeon’s and Ms Llyod.
The bereaved find it unbelievable there is no explanation from Liz Lloyd as to why during the critical period of the pandemic those WhatsApps do not exist, or why they were disappeared.
In December, the Scottish Covid Bereaved watched the evidence of Boris Johnson who as PM presided over a disgusting orgy of narcissism’ at a dysfunctional number 10.
For the Covid bereaved, Johnson’s claim that he saved thousands of lives was a grotesque distortion of the truth. Throughout the UK, Millions of front-line workers risked their lives without adequate PPE, our care homes were turned into killing grounds for the elderly, who were treated as ‘toxic waste’-all the while Johnson and his cabinet were living it up at parties, insulting the dead, the poor and the vulnerable.
The Covid bereaved fought for this public inquiry to hold to account the decision makers throughout the United Kingdom. In Scotland, the bereaved genuinely believed Ms Sturgeon, Mr Yousaf and Mr Swinney when they told the families they would be front and centre, that they would be different, and in Ms Sturgeon’s words that nothing would be off limits including his WhatsApps.
That belief is now shattered and it’s time for the words games to stop.
Today the First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf had to answer to this inquiry- however in Parliament at FMQs he once more he offered an unreserved apology to the Covid Bereaved over the handling of informal communications such as WhatsApps.
Mr Yousaf went onto announce an external review into the handling of WhatsApps by the Government. The Covid Bereaved regard the First Minister’s statement as too little and too late, the damage has been done, the evidence has been destroyed, and this is shameful 11th hour scrambling to sort out the mess created by his Government.
We began asking for the WhatsApps material in March 2023- since that period the Scottish Government’s conduct has been simply shocking and shattered the trust my clients had in the Government being totally transparent.
No announced external review resolves the fact that critical evidence was being destroyed on an industrial scale, despite individuals knowing a public inquiry would require this material.
I said at the start of this process that no individual, no matter how powerful can be allowed to interfere with the pursuit of truth & justice, those who lost their lives to Covid-19 deserve nothing less.
So far all we have seen a culture of impunity, of arrogance, of contempt, it is time for the selective amnesia to stop.
The Scottish Covid Bereaved genuinely believed that our politicians would do better, yet instead over the last few days and months, the bereaved have been insulted, abused, told to shut up and attacked for trying to hold our Government to account.
The bereaved speak without fear of favour, they have fought for the truth to keep their promises to the thousands no longer with us, who cannot speak for themselves.
The FM said today that the bereaved had asked for nothing ‘unreasonable’- but his Government and Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s conduct to date begs the question what they were trying to hide.”