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Jason Leitch Denies Providing Covid Rule 'Workaround' to Humza Yousaf

Jason Leitch, Scotland's national clinical director, refuted claims that he provided Humza Yousaf, then the health secretary and now first minister, with a loophole to evade face mask rules during a social event.
Evidence presented at the UK Covid Inquiry included a WhatsApp conversation where Leitch suggested Yousaf hold a drink to be exempt from mask-wearing when not seated.

Leitch denied this constituted a workaround and maintained he was just clarifying the rules.

At the inquiry, Leitch admitted that adherence to mask guidelines at such gatherings was challenging and that compliance was generally low. Despite his own occasional non-compliance, he believed his actions were reasonable during social interactions like photos.

Leitch also confirmed using an auto-delete function for some WhatsApp messages during the pandemic but emphasized that he adhered to the Scottish government's records management policy. He dismissed a previous comment about deleting messages nightly as an exaggerated joke.

The inquiry also heard criticism from opposition members who accused the Scottish government of not taking pandemic protocols seriously, evidenced by the messages revealed. The deputy first minister stressed the importance of the inquiry's examination of these messages and decision-making processes.

Following Leitch, Professor Devi Sridhar testified about her experience advising the Scottish Government during the pandemic.

She discussed the strain of public visibility, including receiving threats, and her professional relationship with former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who once offered informal personal support. Sridhar insisted her relationships with politicians across the spectrum were similar.

Overall, the testimony highlighted controversies over the government's adherence to and communication of COVID-19 rules, the management of digital communications, and the inquiry's ongoing role in investigating these matters.
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