HUMZA Yousaf and Liz Lloyd, the former chief of staff to Nicola Sturgeon, both appeared in front of the UK Covid Inquiry on Thursday.

Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, had been due to appear but pulled out and has rescheduled for February 1.

However, Jack, his ally Boris Johnson, and the UK Government he led were all firmly on the agenda at the Covid evidence session.

Here are six key points you need to know from the day.

ONE: Nicola Sturgeon called Boris Johnson a ‘f***ing clown’

The National:

No doubt you’ll have seen the headlines by now as political journalists love an expletive, but the revelation from Nicola Sturgeon’s WhatsApps were one of the key points from the inquiry evidence session.

Liz Lloyd, who accepted that she was one of Sturgeon’s closest confidants as her chief of staff, was giving evidence when the messages were brought up.

Sent as Johnson gave a speech announcing a new national lockdown, the two tore into the then-prime minister in private messages.

“This is f***ing excruciating – their comms are AWFUL,” Sturgeon wrote. “His utter incompetence is now offending me on behalf of politicians everywhere.”

She added: “He is a f***ing clown.”

Lloyd told the inquiry the messaging was about communications. “While he was announcing something that was not relevant to Scotland, the sort of chaos that appeared around some of the decisions they took, we then had to work hard to mitigate because people in Scotland see both,” she said.

"So we were clearly not very complimentary about their communications handling that day."

TWO: Independence on the agenda

The Scottish Government “generally didn’t” consider work on independence during the pandemic, Liz Lloyd said.

The former chief adviser to Nicola Sturgeon was asked about Cabinet minutes from June 30, 2020 which stated ministers had “agreed that consideration should be given to restarting work on independence and a referendum, with the arguments reflecting the experience of the coronavirus crisis and developments on EU Exit”.

Lloyd (below) said: “What strikes me about this point is it was agreed that consideration should be given, it wasn't agreed that we would do something other than think.”

The National:

She was then asked: “When do you say that independence became a subject matter under discussion in the Scottish Government during the pandemic?"

Lloyd responded: “It generally didn't. I worked on the pandemic from March 2020 to March 2021. One of the first steps we did was suspend work on independence in the referendum.

“The team that worked on it was disbanded and sent to work on Covid-related activities.”

READ MORE: 'Disgusting': Five times the Tory government used Covid to promote Unionism

Asked if would be fair to say that “a lot” of her career had been spent “strategising about Scottish independence”, Lloyd suggested it would not.

She said: “I think supporters of Scottish independence might be disappointed about what my answer is, but not as much as people would have thought or would have liked.

“A large part of my political career has been spent strategising about what the Scottish Government does in other policy areas. But yes, I have had a role throughout in the progress of Scottish independence.”

THREE: The First Minister apologised for the Scottish Government’s handling of WhatsApps

Informal messaging on platforms such as WhatsApp has been a key focus of the UK Covid Inquiry and the press coverage around it.

Nicola Sturgeon faced criticism after it was revealed that she had not retained any of her WhatsApp messages – along with government guidance. However, some of the messages she exchanged with officials were recovered from the other side.

Addressing the controversy as he took the stand, Humza Yousaf apologised “unreservedly”, saying the Scottish Government’s handling of requests for messaging was “frankly poor”.

The National: Humza Yousaf has been giving evidence to the UK Covid Inquiry

Jamie Dawson KC had put it to Yousaf that it was “important” for the “material relating to the way in which decisions were taken" to be retained so that "lessons could be learned and a better response to the pandemic be developed”.

Yousaf said that was right, going on: "On this issue of informal messages, including WhatsApps, let me unreservedly apologise to this inquiry but also to those who are mourning the loss of a loved one by Covid, for the Government's frankly poor handling of the various Rule Nine requests in relation to informal messaging.

"There's no excuse for it. We should have done better, and it's why I reiterate that public apology today."

FOUR: Humza Yousaf didn’t know if NHS collapse could be prevented

The National:

When serving as health secretary through the second winter after Covid hit Scotland, Humza Yousaf was not confident the NHS would survive.

WhatsApp messages shown to the UK Covid Inquiry revealed that Yousaf expressed his fears to national clinical director Jason Leitch Yousaf wrote: “We have to deal with the consequences. i.e. somehow ensure our NHS doesn't completely collapse. I'm not entirely sure we can deliver on that but I'm going to have to do everything in my power to make sure it doesnt.”

He later added: “After 21 months ‘save the NHS’ isn’t enough to stop them [the public] living their lives as close to normal as they can get.”

The messages were sent in January 2022.

FIVE: Alister Jack’s contributions were called into question

The National:

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack plugged into four nations Covid meetings but “often” said nothing at all, Humza Yousaf told the inquiry.

The First Minister was asked about Jack’s role in the Scotland Office by Jamie Dawson KC, who said there was an “obvious need” for four-nation cooperation.

Yousaf said: “I can only speak for the fact that when we were on these four-nation calls his engagement was very limited.

“There would often be meetings when he wouldn’t say anything at all. Perhaps he was there to observe.”

He added: “I was curious at times why he was on the calls if there was no contribution being made, call after call.”

The topic of the discussion had been travel restrictions. Yousaf said that decisions on policy in the area had been harder for devolved nations as they had to react to decisions made for England, particularly on international travel.

SIX: Humza Yousaf called the Scottish Police Federation a ‘disgrace’

While justice secretary in June 2020, Humza Yousaf called the Scottish Police Federation a “disgrace” in a private conversation with John Swinney.

The revelations came as messages exchanged between Yousaf and Swinney, the former deputy first minister, were shown to the Covid Inquiry.

Responding to Swinney saying he had “caught up with the latest insight into SPF thinking”, Yousaf said the police federation, which represents officers, had been a "disgrace".

He went on: "Right through this pandemic they have shown an arrogance and retrograde thinking. [Former Police Scotland chief constable Iain Livingstone] was livid last night."

Jamie Dawson KC asked Yousaf in what regard “the Scottish Police Federation were, in your view, a disgrace”.

Yousaf said: “This was me expressing my frustration in what would have been a private conversation with a colleague. Sometimes when you are venting those private frustrations to a colleague you use language that you regret.

“I had a good relationship with the Scottish Police Federation, we didn't always get along … it's fair to say at times we would have very robust disagreements.

“My concern, in this particular instance … I didn't think that they were being supportive of the Chief Constable and the police officers more generally in relation to enforcement of regulations and I thought that the way they articulated that was deeply, deeply unhelpful.”

Yousaf went on to stress that he was frustrated with the Scottish Police Federation leadership and not individual police officers.