Yousaf called police federation ‘a disgrace’ in frustrated message, inquiry told

A message exchange between Humza Yousaf and John Swinney was revealed.

Neil Pooran
Thursday 25 January 2024 17:17 GMT
The First Minister gave evidence at the inquiry (Jane Barlow/PA)
The First Minister gave evidence at the inquiry (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

Humza Yousaf once referred to the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) as a “disgrace” as he expressed frustration with its leadership during a WhatsApp message exchange, the UK Covid Inquiry has heard.

Messages from June 2020 between Mr Yousaf and John Swinney were shown to the inquiry as the First Minister gave evidence on Thursday.

The SPF represents rank and file police in Scotland and at the time Mr Yousaf was the Scottish Government’s justice secretary.

Lead counsel to the current module of the inquiry Jamie Dawson KC read out the message exchange as it was displayed on screens at the hearing in Edinburgh.

Mr Swinney, who at that point was deputy first minister, said: “I have just caught up with the latest insight into SPF thinking!”

Mr Yousaf said: “Theyre (sic) a disgrace. Right through this pandemic they have shown an arrogance and retrograde thinking. Chief was livid last night.”

Mr Dawson asked Mr Yousaf why he said the SPF was a disgrace.

The First Minister said: “I was expressing frustration in a private conversation.

“Sometimes when you are venting to a colleague you use language you regret.”

He explained that he did not always agree with the SPF leadership, who he felt were not being supportive of efforts to enforce pandemic regulations.

Calum Steele, who retired as SPF general secretary last year, responded in a light-hearted manner on X, formerly known as Twitter.

He tweeted at the former Labour MSP Neil Findlay – who Mr Yousaf had referred to as an “a***hole” and a “tw**” in other messages revealed by the inquiry – saying “should we start a support group?”

Mr Findlay responded: “I’ve booked on for therapy.”

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