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Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney to give evidence at Covid-19 inquiry

Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon will give evidence to the Covid-19 inquiry with her former deputy, John Swinney (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Ryan McDougall, PA

Scotland’s former first minister Nicola Sturgeon and former deputy first minister John Swinney will give evidence to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry on Thursday.

Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly said the pandemic was one of the hardest things she has ever had to deal with in her political career.

In her resignation speech as first minister, she said:  “Leading this country through the Covid pandemic is by far the toughest thing I’ve done.

“It may well be the toughest thing I ever do. I certainly hope so.

“Now by no stretch of the imagination was my job the hardest in the country during that time.

“But the weight of responsibility was immense and it’s only very recently, I think, that I’ve started to comprehend, let alone process, the physical and mental impact of it on me.”

On Wednesday senior Scottish Government officials began giving evidence to the inquiry.

Jeane Freeman, the former cabinet secretary for health and sport, said that while Scotland could have better handled the pandemic, there was ultimately “no plan” that could have helped the country cope with Covid-19.

She said: “There were certainly areas where Scotland could have been better prepared in terms of the underlying structure and delivery of all those recommendations.

“But Scotland, like other countries throughout the world, was dealing with a virus which was unknown and new.

“So in that sense, I don’t believe there is a plan that would have been possible that would have been able, in and of itself, to cope with Covid-19.”

The inquiry will also hear from Sir Jeremy Farrar, former director of the Wellcome Trust and current chief scientist at the World Health Organisation.

He will be joined by Catherine Frances, director general for local government, resilience and communities at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

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