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Nicola Sturgeon not being investigated by police ‘at this time’ over ‘deleted’ pandemic WhatsApp messages | Politics News

Scottish police have told Sky News Nicola Sturgeon is not being investigated “at this time” after it emerged the former first minister wiped pandemic related WhatsApp messages.

The UK COVID Inquiry heard on Friday that everything sent and received by Ms Sturgeon during COVID-19 on the platform was erased.

She previously said she never used informal messages to make decisions throughout the crisis but was criticised by several political opponents who say she is attempting to hide exchanges with key ministers and advisers.

Jamie Dawson KC, counsel to the inquiry, said on Friday that a table submitted by the Scottish government confirmed that the WhatsApp messages were gone.

The former first minister hit back on Saturday and insisted the inquiry “does have messages” between her and those she communicated with.

Nicola Sturgeon MSP and John Swinney MSP during First Minster's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday January 11, 2024.Holyrood
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Sturgeon and John Swinney MSP during First Minster’s Questions in Edinburgh

On X, Ms Sturgeon said: “In light of recent coverage, there are certain points I feel it important to make clear.

“Contrary to the impression given in some coverage, the inquiry does have messages between me and those I most regularly communicated with through informal means.”

She added: “Although these had not been retained on my own device, I was able to obtain copies which I submitted to the inquiry last year.

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“To be clear, I conducted the COVID response through formal processes from my office in St Andrews House, not through WhatsApp or any other informal messaging platform. I was not a member of any WhatsApp groups.

“The number of people I communicated with through informal messaging at all was limited.

“Also, any handwritten notes made by me were passed to my private office to be dealt with and recorded as appropriate. Throughout the entire process, I acted in line with Scottish government policy.”

The Scottish COVID Bereaved group confirmed on Saturday evening it was “considering” lodging a formal police complaint against Ms Sturgeon.

The organisation, which is represented by lawyer Aamer Anwar, said it is likely to wait for the evidence of the former SNP leader to conclude before making its next move.

Sky News questioned Police Scotland about the matter on Saturday.

A spokesman replied: “At this time, we’ve nothing to indicate any police involvement or that this is a policing matter.”

Ms Sturgeon is due to give evidence directly to the UK inquiry in the coming weeks in Edinburgh.

Police officers investigated over handling of probe into ‘Grindr killer’ Stephen Port | UK News

Five officers and three former officers are being investigated over their handling of the police probe into murders by serial killer Stephen Port.

The officers are being investigated for gross misconduct, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said.

In April a report from His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) warned that the Met had still not learned from its “calamitous litany of failures” in the Port case – meaning the force could have missed other murders.

The “Grindr killer” drugged his victims Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor with overdoses of GHB and dumped their bodies near his flat in Barking, east London, between June 2014 and September 2015.

Despite what many now see as the obvious links between these deaths, it wasn’t until the final victim’s body was found, with the grieving families carrying out their own investigations, that local police finally realised they had a serial killer on their hands.

(Clockwide from top left): Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor, Gabriel Kovari and Anthony Walgate
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(Clockwide from top left): Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor, Gabriel Kovari and Anthony Walgate

IOPC regional director Steve Noonan said: “Our re-investigation has been, and continues to be, thorough and detailed. We recognise it has taken some time to reach this stage, but these are complex matters, involving multiple officers and four investigations into unexplained deaths and then the subsequent murder investigation into Port.

“Though we have found an indication that the behaviour of these eight individuals may have amounted to gross misconduct, this does not necessarily mean disciplinary proceedings will automatically follow. Based on the evidence, at the conclusion of our investigation we will decide whether any officers should face disciplinary proceedings.”

He added that the families of the men killed had shown “considerable patience”.

Commander Jon Savell from the Met reiterated the force’s “heartfelt” apologies for its blunders in the case.

A lawyer for the families said the development was a testament to their “determination and perseverance”.

Families of three of Port’s victims had previously received payouts from the Met after settling civil claims.

Read more:
How the ‘Grindr killer’ murdered four men

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Could ‘Grindr killer’ have been stopped?

Neil Hudgell, of Hudgell Solicitors, said: “The families of Anthony, Gabriel, Daniel and Jack very much welcome today’s announcement that eight officers are to be investigated for gross misconduct.

“Given the history of this case and frustrations of the past, they are cautiously encouraged by the reopening of the investigation, which must be seen to be full and fearless, and with the complete cooperation of the Metropolitan Police Service and the officers under scrutiny. No comment interviews simply will not do.

“This latest development is testament to the determination and perseverance the families have shown over the past eight years with regards to the Met Police’s investigations into the loss of their loved ones.

“We would not have reached this point without their dedication to ensuring to ensure full transparency and accountability.”

Basic errors by a string of detectives left Port free to carry out the series of murders as well as drug and sexually assault more than a dozen other men.

Inquest jurors found that “fundamental failures” by the police were likely to have contributed to the deaths of three of the men.

ITV investigated ‘rumours of relationship’ between Phillip Schofield and young employee – but pair ‘repeatedly denied’ affair | UK News

ITV has said it investigated “rumours of a relationship” between Phillip Schofield and a younger employee – but the pair “repeatedly denied” the affair.

The statement came after questions were raised over what network bosses knew about the conduct of the veteran broadcaster.

Fellow former This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes had said Schofield was “not the only guilty party” and claimed top management “knew what sort of man he was”.

Holmes spoke out after veteran broadcaster Schofield admitted having an “unwise, but not illegal” affair with a much younger male ITV employee while still married and lying about it.

Writing on Twitter, Holmes said: “Schofield has finally been caught out… But he’s not the only guilty party. 4 high members of ITV management knew what sort of man he was.”

Eamonn Holmes and Phillip Schofield
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Eamonn Holmes says he was ‘deceived’ by Phillip Schofield. Pic: Rex

Schofield quit the broadcaster on Friday.

His confession came in a statement published in the Daily Mail shortly before his agents, YMU, also revealed they were parting company with him with immediate effect.

More on Phillip Schofield

In response to mounting pressure on the broadcaster, an ITV spokesperson said: “Further to our statement last night, ITV can confirm that when rumours of a relationship between Phillip Schofield and an employee of ITV first began to circulate in early 2020 ITV investigated.

“Both parties were questioned and both categorically and repeatedly denied the rumours as did Phillip’s then agency YMU.

“In addition, ITV spoke to a number of people who worked on This Morning and were not provided with, and did not find, any evidence of a relationship beyond hearsay and rumour.

“Phillip’s statement yesterday reveals that he lied to people at ITV, from senior management to fellow presenters, to YMU, to the media and to others over this relationship.”

Analysis:
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Phillip Schofield admits affair

In another Twitter post, Holmes referred to how Schofield apparently lied to him and his wife, presenter Ruth Langsford.

He added: “Ruth and I deceived and lied to. One day I will tell the story. We had no issue with him being gay, only support.

“What transpired took us for fools. The man told us complete lies and we unfortunately believed him.”

Separately, BBC presenter and former ITV newscaster Andrea Catherwood tweeted: “A lot more questions about who knew what when at ITV to be answered after this…”

Dermot O’Leary, who has been tipped to replace the former This Morning star said: “It’s not appropriate for me to comment.”

Schofield, 61, left the daytime show last week.

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Dermot O’Leary asked about Phillip Schofield

‘It is now over’

In a statement on Friday, Schofield said he was “deeply sorry” for lying about the relationship.

He said: “I did have a consensual on-off relationship with a younger male colleague at This Morning.

“Contrary to speculation, whilst I met the man when he was a teenager and was asked to help him to get into television, it was only after he started to work on the show that it became more than just a friendship.

“That relationship was unwise, but not illegal. It is now over.”

It is understood the younger colleague, who is not a public figure, did not want the relationship to be made public.

Read more:
Schofield leaves This Morning after more than 20 years

Timeline of departure and rumours of rift with co-host Holly
Statements from presenter and his agents in full

Holly Willoughby (left) and Phillip Schofield attending the launch of Dancing On Ice 2020, held at Bovingdon Airfield, Hertfordshire. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday December 9, 2019. See PA story SHOWBIZ Ice. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire.
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Schofield’s exit from This Morning came after rumours of a rift with co-host Holly Willoughby

The affair took place before Mr Schofield publicly came out as gay in 2020, and while he was still married to his wife Stephanie Lowe.

In a damning statement, his former agents YMU Group said “honesty and integrity” were core values of their business and that their relationships are “based entirely on trust”.

Schofield’s exit from This Morning came after weeks of rumours of a rift between him and his co-presenter Holly Willoughby.

Reports of behind-the-scenes problems between the pair surfaced after his brother Tim Schofield was convicted of child sex offences.

Manchester City footballer Kyle Walker being investigated by police over alleged indecent exposure | UK News

Manchester City and England footballer Kyle Walker is being investigated by police over allegations he indecently exposed himself in a Wilmslow bar.

Cheshire Police said officers were investigating the incident following the circulation of a video on social media.

The alleged incident is said to have happened in a bar on Sunday after City’s 2-0 Premier League win over Newcastle.

A statement from police said: “On Wednesday 8 March, Cheshire police was made aware of a video circulating on social media in relation to an indecent exposure which allegedly occurred in the Wilmslow area.

“Enquiries in relation to the incident are in the early stages and no arrests have been made at this time.”

The Sun released security camera footage from the pub which the papers claims shows Walker pulling down his tracksuit bottoms.

The paper reports that the 32-year-old was drinking with friends at a Manchester venue.

City, who gave their players two days off after the Newcastle victory, have declined to comment.

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The PA news agency understands Walker contests the allegations and reported for training as normal after the two-day break.

Walker’s representatives have been approached for comment.

Owami Davies: Met Police investigated after previously speaking to missing student nurse | UK News

The Met Police is being investigated after the watchdog learnt officers had previously been in contact with missing student nurse Owami Davies.

The 24-year-old from Essex was last seen on 7 July in Croydon after leaving her family home in Grays, Essex three days prior, and has not yet been found.

She was reported missing to Essex Police by her family on 6 July, with the force later handing the file over to the Met on 23 July.

However, on Saturday, Scotland Yard revealed its officers had spoken to Ms Davies on 6 July, after responding to an address in Croydon to concerns over the welfare of a woman.

Both the police and ambulance service attended and spoke to Ms Davies, who told them she did not want help.

At the time, she had not been marked as a missing person on the police database, and was only established later to be Ms Davies during the investigation to find her.

The Met said it is not investigating the officers in question, and its professional standards body was consulted, adding the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) requested the matter to be referred to them.

In a statement, Scotland Yard said: “The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) were consulted and as there has been contact with police the IOPC were informed.

“The IOPC has requested the matter be referred to them.

“The officers are not subject to any current investigation by the DPS.

“The interaction recorded on the officers’ body-worn video has been viewed by members of the Independent Advisory Group and Owami’s family to ensure openness and transparency.”

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Last known image of missing nurse

The IOPC said in a statement: “We can confirm that we received a referral on August 5 from the Metropolitan Police Service in relation to contact officers had with Owami Davies in Croydon on July 6, after she had been reported missing to Essex Police.

“We are currently assessing the available information to determine what further action may be required.”

A renewed appeal to find Ms Davies was launched last week, with the British Transport Police saying she could still be using trains in the area.

The Metropolitan Police added: “Owami has been depressed and in the absence of her medication may use alcohol to relieve her depression.”

So far, five people have been arrested as part of the investigation, two on suspicion of murder and three on suspicion of kidnap – all of whom have been released on bail.

Anyone with information should call the incident room on 020 8721 4622, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.