Commentary around Nicola Sturgeon’s emotional appearance at the UK Covid-19 Inquiry is “not acceptable”, Scottish ministers have said.

Speaking to the inquiry on Thursday, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said he “didn’t believe for a minute” the evidence Ms Sturgeon provided the day before, and he claimed she could “cry from one eye if she wanted to”.

Scottish culture and international development minister Christina McKelvie said Mr Jack’s remarks show women’s emotions are often used as a “sport” in politics.

Scottish Culture Secretary Angus Robertson said he would not provide a “running commentary” on Ms Sturgeon’s evidence session, but he praised the former first minister’s “diligent” handling of the pandemic.

Ms Sturgeon repeatedly fought back tears during her marathon evidence session on Wednesday as she said she will always “carry regret” at decisions she and her Government got wrong during the pandemic.

Speaking on Friday, Ms McKelvie said: “For some people, that is a sport to see women upset – and it is not acceptable.

“It has to stop”.

She praised the work of equalities organisation Engender for challenging sexism.

Mr Robertson refused to be specifically drawn on Mr Jack’s comments, but said: “I think fair-minded people will look at how evidence has been given.

“I know Nicola Sturgeon to be a tremendously generous person and I know how diligent she was throughout the worst of the pandemic, working literally day and night to try and make decisions.”

Mr Jack appeared before the inquiry on Thursday for the final day of the inquiry’s hearings in Edinburgh.

Coronavirus – Wed Jun 10, 2020
Christina McKelvie condemned comments about Nicola Sturgeon’s emotions (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

He said: “I watched that evidence from yesterday and I didn’t believe it for a minute.

“I think Nicola Sturgeon could cry from one eye if she wanted to.”

That came a day after Ms Sturgeon told the inquiry she acted with the best intentions during the pandemic.

She said: “People will make their own judgments about me, about my government, about my decisions, but for as long as I live, I will carry the impact of these decisions, I will carry regret at the decisions and judgments I got wrong, but I will always know in my heart, and in my soul, that my instincts and my motivation was nothing other than trying to do the best in the face of this pandemic.”

The UK Government declined to comment.