IF you saw the story and social media discussion of an apparent cronyism row involving Humza Yousaf and actor Martin Compston, you might have been expecting to find a bombshell contained within the finer details of the story.

One of the first mentions of this “scandal” I stumbled across was a tweet from Scottish Tory MSP Annie Wells, where she claimed Yousaf had “inappropriately intervened to help a high-profile independence supporter”.

Colour me intrigued. Helped him with what? I wondered. Did the Scots star secure arts cash through some dodgy fund, only available to prominent independence supporters?

Did the First Minister (below) intervene in a planning row involving the actor’s Greenock home? No.

The National: First Minister Humza Yousaf

It seems Compston simply asked the then health secretary for advice when one of his co-stars struggled to get a vaccine appointment during the pandemic.

In a redacted email seen by news outlets, Compston says his co-star – thought to be actress Emily Hampshire – had “filled out all the relevant stuff” but “seems to be hitting a brick wall with being told it’s another department’s area each time”.

He went on to say he was (quite rightly) “a bit worried” that, with two months of filming still to go and with new Covid variants on the rampage, his colleague would be left without the protection offered by the vaccine. Compston then asked Yousaf if the actress would be eligible to attend one of the drop-in vaccination centres.

Now, if at this point Yousaf had got on the phone to NHS bigwigs and bumped a pensioner off the appointment list so Compston’s mate could get a vaccine in their place, this series of events might well have evolved into a scandal.

But he didn’t.

He simply forwarded the email on to his private office. From there, it was passed to the Scottish Government’s health policy team and then to NHS Lothian, where the problem was presumably resolved.

This happened at a time when everybody in Scotland over 40 had been offered a vaccine and invites had been sent to those aged 30-39.

Despite what some of the more hyperbolic news coverage would have you believe, there was no queue-jumping involved. The clue is in the name: drop-in centres were a flexible way to secure maximum uptake of the life-saving vaccine.

This wasn’t a case of the eligibility rules being bent, either. It was Scottish Government policy at the time to vaccinate people temporarily residing in Scotland, including those who were here for work. Hampshire was eligible to receive a vaccine and it wasn’t her fault – nor Compston’s – that it proved such a faff to get one.

And remember what the government messaging across the UK was at the time.

It wanted as many people to be vaccinated as possible and was constantly coming up with new initiatives to encourage people to get their jags.

Vaccination was billed not just as a way to protect our own health, but to protect others around us, too.

As a non-resident working in Scotland, it seems Hampshire did all she could to navigate a health system she was not familiar with, so she could protect herself and others from a deadly virus.

The only reason this story has become a grasping-at-straws “scandal”, is because the main players involved are a former health secretary and a prominent independence supporter.

It came at the end of a week where former prime minister Boris Johnson was unable to hand over WhatsApp messages asked for by the Covid inquiry because he says he has “forgotten” the passcode of the phone he was using at the time.

This is the same prime minister who partied during lockdown and then lied about it repeatedly.

It is the same Tory prime minister who oversaw a culture of cronyism in the awarding of Covid contracts, and funnelled hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to Tory friends and donors during the pandemic.

So forgive me if I can’t muster the appropriate level of outrage over the fact that the former Scottish health secretary might have had a hand in ensuring someone who was entitled to receive a vaccine during the pandemic actually got one.

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In response to the story, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The then health secretary received a number of queries of this nature from members of the public who, for different reasons, were having issues accessing vaccination.

“It is standard practice for the office also to liaise with the relevant health board to reach a resolution and ensure the individual can get the vaccine they are entitled to. Through this process people were only ever vaccinated in line with their eligibility.”

The faux outrage we’ve seen from some quarters directed towards Compston and Yousaf shouldn’t distract us from the very real instances of cronyism engaged in by the UK Government during the pandemic.