Nicola Sturgeon appeals for civility over Jason Leitch row

Nicola Sturgeon has issued an appeal to "be nice to each other" after her senior medical advisors were caught up in social media spats with opposition politicians and the media.

Jason Leitch hit back at Richard Leonard
Jason Leitch hit back at Richard Leonard

The First Minister said people were getting “a bit cranky” after seven months of the pandemic.

National clinical director Professor Jason Leitch hit back at Labour leader Richard Leonard on Twitter last night, after the politician branded the medic “tone deaf” over his call for Scots to prepare for a "digital Christmas”.

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And the media's reporting of the comments was criticised by Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith on Twitter, who claimed this had been "twisted”.

This prompted journalists in the Scottish Parliamentary lobby to hit back with a statement calling on Dr Smith to delete his tweet.

Ms Sturgeon said the majority of people had "really valued" advice provided by Prof Leitch.

"Of course, civil servants shouldn't get involved in political debate and by and large, as part of this rule as well, politicians shouldn't have a go at civil servants,” she said.

"The media have a crucial role to do right now and have played a vital part. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be standing here every day answering your questions, both in explaining to the public what we want them to do, but also an important part in accountability and scrutiny."

But she added: "Some of these advisors that I rely on are working incredibly long hours under intense pressure knowing that the advice they give me that leads to the decisions I take are matters of life and death.

"They're doing a good job, but it's not easy. And journalists are doing a good job under high pressure as well and, as I say, performing a vital role.

"So when I'm talking to the general population about us all maybe needing to be kind to each other, and I understand why we're all maybe getting a bit cranky at the moment, but maybe it should apply to government and advisors and to journalists as well.

"We've all got jobs to do in this really difficult set of circumstances. Let's all do them to the best of our ability and respect each others jobs and the roles that we are playing, but remember that nobody is finding this easy."

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