SCOTTISH Secretary Alister Jack has pulled out of his scheduled appearance at the UK Covid Inquiry.

The Tory MP was due to be quizzed on the UK and Scottish governments' responses to the pandemic on Thursday morning.

However, inquiry chair Baroness Heather Hallett said that Jack was unable to attend. She added that it was neither his fault nor that of the inquiry, and that she hoped he can attend next week’s sessions.

It was later confirmed that Jack would appear before the inquiry on February 1.

In October, it was reported that Jack had failed to give a statement to the Covid inquiry, despite having been given an extended deadline to do so.

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The UK inquiry is currently hearing evidence in Edinburgh, with key Scottish Government figures answering questions on the response to the pandemic. The National will be bringing you all the live updates as they happen here.

Chief medical officer Gregor Smith and national clinical director Jason Leitch have both given evidence before the inquiry in recent days.

Elsewhere on Thursday, First Minister Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon’s former chief of staff Liz Lloyd are both due to give evidence.

Lloyd was scheduled to appear in the morning session, which begins at 10am. Jack was also set for the morning session before the cancellation.

Yousaf is set to appear in the afternoon session, which begins at 2pm.

A spokesperson for Yousaf issued a statement earlier this week explaining his actions as former health secretary after the inquiry was shown a WhatsApp exchange he had with Leitch in November 2021.

In the exchange, Yousaf asked about the rules around the wearing of masks ahead of an event he was attending.

At the time, Covid rules in Scotland meant people would not have to wear a mask if they were sitting down to eat or drink, but would if they were moving around a bar or restaurant while not drinking.

Professor Leitch told Yousaf to “have a drink in your hands at ALL times” then he would be “exempt” from wearing a mask, but he denied to the inquiry he had given Yousaf a way to “get out” of obeying the mask rules.

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A spokesperson for Yousaf (above) later said the exchange “simply shows the then health secretary seeking specific, up-to-date guidance from a senior adviser to ensure he was complying with the Covid rules”.

The inquiry has also previously heard that Sturgeon provided top adviser Devi Sridhar with an SNP email address where she said she could be contacted “privately” alongside her official email during a discussion around a briefing paper.

The Scottish Conservatives have since urged the former first minister to publish any emails to or from her SNP email account relating to Government business during her time in Bute House.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie has also written to Permanent Secretary John Paul Marks – Scotland’s top civil servant – asking what action he has taken to investigate the issue.

A source close to Sturgeon has insisted that any emails relevant to the management of the pandemic she received in her private inbox “were passed to the Scottish Government”.