INNOCENT until proven guilty appears to be a concept lost on many in the media given the coverage of the Covid inquiries to date.

While understandably the SNP’s political opponents wish to muddy the waters by conveying equivalence between the actions during the Covid pandemic of the former FM and those of the former PM, most people with a modicum of common sense appreciated fundamental differences between the seriousness and professionalism of two starkly contrasting characters. While one was avoiding Cobra meetings and, according to his political adviser, making comments such as “let the bodies pile high”, the other appeared regularly in front of the media to openly explain a logical and caring approach determined in consultation with government health advisers.

READ MORE: Scottish Government 'wouldn't accept Covid was here to stay’

While Rishi Sunak seems to have been given a “free ride” by the UK press over the unavailability of his WhatsApp messages, speculation abounds about what was contained in Nicola Sturgeon’s social media messages with some (without even knowing what was contained in any of her informal messages, and whether these have been irretrievably lost to the Covid inquiries or not) even claiming that relatives of the bereaved have been “betrayed”.

Of course information relevant to these inquiries should not have been deleted, especially if pertinent details were not recorded through formal government channels in contradiction of rational Scottish Government policy, but perhaps before more people rush to judgement and speculate that important information was “deliberately deleted to avoid public scrutiny”, they should recognise and reject scurrilous attempts to falsely equate the “modus operandi” of two radically different leaders.

READ MORE: Fact check: Did Nicola Sturgeon 'push' for indyref2 during first lockdown?

No doubt Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government also made mistakes, but it appears that the most significant errors made during the pandemic were made by Boris Johnson, who acted like a maverick-dictator when making decisions around the control of our borders and the timing of lockdowns with associated “relief spending”. Some will claim that the UK’s slightly earlier rollout of vaccines effectively offset his seemingly reckless decision-making, but other countries soon caught up and in many cases overtook the UK in vaccine delivery while overall the UK, and particularly England and Wales, tragically suffered much higher death rates than many neighbouring countries.

Emphatic early-warning signals from Italy of a pending health catastrophe were largely ignored by a PM who insisted on shaking hands during a hospital visit in the early days of the pandemic while the substantial natural boundary of water and exclusive control of the UK’s borders which should have helped to isolate its citizens proved ineffective for Brexit Britain.

Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian

WHATSAPP is a great tool, often used instead of phone calls or face-to-face meetings when it suits one person but not the other or others. WhatsApp is only part of the jigsaw – without a record of the preceding or subsequent related conversations, the picture is incomplete.

Consequently, unless the Scottish or UK Government had an official policy that the content of all WhatsApp messages, phone calls, face-to-face and regarding government business had to be recorded then it is an incomplete and possibly misleading record of how final policy decisions were reached.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon WhatsApps: The Scottish Government guidance on the app, explained

Much is being made of the end-to-end encryption of WhatsApp, but its security is only as good as the recipient of the message who could copy and pass on the message via another system on the same phone.

What is being witnessed at the moment is the endless and futile quest for perfect hindsight.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry

I FELT the article on page 19 of Wednesday’s paper “Fewer patients in A&E for more than four hours” deserved to be the lead article on the front page. I say this because our NHS often hits the headlines for all the wrong reasons, but his time the story was a positive one.

The Health Secretary, who just happens to be my MSP, acknowledged in your article that waiting times are “longer than we want them to be”, however the latest figures to January 14 2024 – one of the busiest times for our NHS – are showing signs of improvement and that is very welcome.

I am sure the additional £12m announced by the Health Secretary back in October 2023 to expand the “Hospital at Home” service is ultimately reducing pressure on A&E and hospitals admissions overall. Our NHS is precious to us all and we owe those who work there a huge debt of gratitude.

Catriona C Clark

SORRY to read what was John Drummond’s final column in Sunday’s National (A valedictory message and the eunuchs of Downing Street, Jan 21). His was always a “go to” page on a Sunday along with Mike Small from Bella Caledonia and also Stuart Cosgrove, who has also departed from your pages.

I would like to thank both John and Stuart for their excellent contributions over these past years. I would also like to see some of the output of the Wee Ginger Dug (Paul Kavanagh) return to the printed edition. I can but hope.

Keep up the good work.

John Macleod

THE UK Government says it wants to grow the economy. This is today’s lie. Here is the proof: Scotland will not have a direct ferry route to Europe supported by the UK Government. See? Told you!

M Ross