THERE seemed to be some confusion during the recent Covid inquiry hearings as to whether the Scottish Government has an electronic messaging policy or not. Yes it does, and it can be found here: This is the latest (October 2023) version, and I think there would be little change in substance from previous versions, following from the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011, however it would be good to have confirmation of that. I presume the Scottish Information Commissioner (or his predecessor) must have been aware of these policies, which he is now questioning.

I would direct you to clauses 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 which are summarised at clause 8 of the current policy. For brevity I transpose the relevant information from clause 8. The highlighted “musts” are from the policy.

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4.1 – You must transcribe the salient points of any business discussions and/or decisions in a mobile messaging app into an email or text document using the SCOTS platform and save this to the Electronic Records and Document Management system (eRDM).

4.2 – You must consider whether aspects of a mobile messaging app conversation should be transcribed to SCOTS for Freedom of Information interests.

4.3 – You must delete business conversations at least monthly in the mobile messaging app.

I watched the inquiry evidence session on Wednesday and my opinion is that Nicola Sturgeon followed precisely the policy set out, recording and deleting appropriately. Where does the inquiry KC think she deviated from the then policy? If she didn’t, why was she then pilloried by the KC for following the mandatory requirements?

There would be justification for his line of questioning if she had not followed policy. It would also be reasonable, as one of the outcomes of this inquiry, that this policy is found wanting (as indeed the Scottish Information Commissioner has now suggested). It would not, however, have been appropriate for Ms Sturgeon, as a public officer, to have set aside and ignore government policy, as very many people are suggesting, with perfect hindsight, she should have done.

By contrast, it would appear Alister Jack, in his blatant misogynist and sanctimonious “evidence”, ignored all requirements of public information retention before his wholesale deletion and destruction of his WhatsApps. I trust appropriate sanctions will be applied to Mr Jack, and it would be nice to think both he and Mr Jamie Dawson KC would issue public apologies to the former First Minister for so publicly impugning her.

Frank Spratt

FOLLOWING on from Richard Walker’s column on Friday (Covid inquiry has exposed the British establishment’s sheer hypocrisy), I am taken aback that nothing much was made of Jack’s wholesale deletion of messages up to November 2020. That was the period during which Gove presented a paper to Cabinet – colloquially referred to as the report on the Union – which is rumoured to involve dipping into monies set aside for Covid. It is stretching credulity not to infer there would have been exchanges of messages between Gove and Jack on this. It is very remiss of a KC not to join the dots and probe this issue further.

Helen Ogg

ANOTHER 24 licences for oil and gas exploration were approved last week. This was lost under the furore of the Covid inquiry, either by accident or by deliberate omission – it is difficult to decide.

It’s not just the UK Conservative government letting the net-zero side down and putting their foot on “the wrong gas”. The UK Labour Party under Keir Starmer is also distancing or softening his party from the previously announced £28 billion green agenda commitment.

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It is not surprising for the UK Conservative government to put their green agenda on a low gas, but this seems to be one more flip-flop from the UK Labour Party as it tries to sail as close as possible to Tory party directions, which seem to be heavily influenced by big oil.

The common belief created by the propaganda around oil and gas implies that HMRC will receive the revenue from the sale.

Not so, as it is sold on to the open market, and only the profit is taxed by HMRC. We all know how easy it is for revenue money to be redirected to a non-taxable location.

The additional green spin being used as the defence strategy for awarding the licences is that extracting oil from North Sea removes the need to import oil from sources further away with poorer environmental processes, which can be seen as a flawed strategy.

This is how we Scots benefit from oil – not much, it seems.

Alistair Ballantyne

I COMPLETELY agree with James Duncan (Letters, Feb 4) that “short, sharp, simple” messages and eye-catching slogans will at least make the undecided take note.

Ken McCartney