NICOLA Sturgeon retained “no messages whatsoever” from during the pandemic, the UK Covid Inquiry was told.

The former first minister's use of electronic messages, such as on WhatsApp, during the Covid-19 pandemic came under scrutiny as the probe heard evidence in Edinburgh on Friday morning.

Lesley Fraser, the director general corporate of the Scottish government, was questioned on a table given to the inquiry by officials summarising the different forms of communication used by senior staff and ministers.

READ MORE: Covid Inquiry: Westminster 'undermined' Scotland's Covid restrictions

Under the box relating to Sturgeon, lead counsel to the Inquiry Jamie Dawson KC, set out that it showed “messages were not retained, they were deleted in routine tidying up of inboxes or changing of phones - unable to retrieve messages”.

Dawson put to Fraser that indicated that Sturgeon, during her tenure as first minister during the pandemic, “had retained no messages whatsoever in connection with her management of the pandemic, is that correct?”

“That’s what that indicates to me,” Fraser replied.

Fraser also confirmed that the Scottish Government did not provide any messages to the inquiry after it requested any correspondence relating to Sturgeon kept on the corporate record.

The National:

“Does that mean that we have no access to the former first minister of Scotland’s messages in connection with her management of the pandemic?” Dawson asked.

Fraser said that Sturgeon would be able to explain the process better but when pushed, added: “Ms Sturgeon would have worked with her private office in order to ensure that her views and instructions were clearly understood.

“They may well have been informed by exchanges she had with her chief of staff or with other ministers, but she would have relayed that to her private office, and then that would be the instruction that went from her private office and that would be retained on our corporate system.”

Asked if she knew that to have happened, Fraser said, “that's how Government works”.

“My experience is that we’ve been able to find the relevant information and demonstrate how those decisions were made through emails and other exchanges through our corporate record system,” she added.

READ MORE: UK Covid Inquiry: Humza Yousaf and Alister Jack to give evidence

A spokesman for Sturgeon said on Thursday: “In the interests of everyone who has been impacted by the Covid pandemic, Nicola is committed to full transparency to both the UK and Scottish Covid inquiries.

“Any messages she had, she handled and dealt with in line with the Scottish Government’s policies.

“Nicola has provided a number of written statements to the UK inquiry - totalling hundreds of pages - and welcomes the opportunity to give oral evidence to the inquiry again this month when she will answer all questions put to her.”

It comes as messages from clinical director Jason Leitch showed he had said that deleting WhatsApps was “a pre-bed ritual”.