I’ve just watched the Netflix series Fool Me Once.
It’s a tale of double dealing and duplicity; an edge of the seat affair with an unexpected final twist.
The UK Covid Inquiry in Edinburgh, meanwhile, is revealing its own twists and turns as a real-life drama.
In the process it’s shredding the reputations of many of the folk we put our faith in during a crisis which cost lives and left families heartbroken and grieving at their losses.
‘Maybe they thought they were untouchable’
The chief medical officer, Professor Sir Gregor Smith, and senior Scottish Government officials have been accused of an “industrial scale” erasure of evidence in their group chats on WhatsApp to avoid journalists and the public obtaining them under Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation.
In a slap in the face for transparency and openness, we discovered those involved were blissfully bantering about the messages.
Ken Thomson, the former director general for strategy and external affairs, quipped that his middle names were “plausible deniability” as he told his colleagues to wipe the exchanges.
And Jason Leitch – the clinical director who was never off radio and TV during the pandemic – described deleting his messages as a “pre-bed ritual”.
Maybe they thought they were untouchable.
But under grilling by top legal counsel with forensic minds and killer questions, those questioned so far have looked hapless.
Nicola Sturgeon, whose reputation has plummeted from hero to zero faster than Superman can change into his costume, previously said nothing would be off limits to this inquiry.
But the disclosure that she and others involved have deleted their WhatsApp messages leaves the kind of smell you get when your drains are choked.
“Speaking truth to power” is a phrase much loved and parroted by those with a keen interest in politics.
But what happens when power doesn’t care about the truth?
I’ve always thought it a pompous phrase but it’s not half as patronising as the attitude of some of our elected representatives, and those in senior positions, towards the public in this grim affair.
If those involved in this suppression of messages thought they could weasel their way out of their culpability and duplicity it looks like they were mistaken.
The forces of anger and indignation ranged against them are formidable.
Aamer Anwar, the lawyer for Scottish Covid Bereaved who is like a terrier with a bone in action, says it would’ve been clear that potential evidence shouldn’t have been deleted.
While Information Commissioner and former policeman David Hamilton – whose role is to ensure Freedom of Information law is respected and enforced – reckons the principles of FOI have been “subverted”.
Some SNP supporters have taken a tribal party political stance over this dire affair, refusing to see that what’s at stake is the very essence of accountability and openness which they’ve long assured us separates Scotland from our neighbours in England.
It’s not enough to pontificate that we’re different and that our values are somehow fairer and better, there must be actual evidence of that in practice.
The deletion of conversations which might have a major bearing in assisting this crucial inquiry has already damaged confidence and trust in some of the individuals involved.
There’s a danger as the inquiry progresses, fresh revelations will further vitiate faith in those in charge of our institutions.
Response to ground-share column
My suggestion last week that Dundee and United should at least discuss sharing a ground certainly generated plenty of heat.
Whether it produced any light is debatable but when I was out and about I had many an interesting discussion with both sets of fans, the majority seemed to think it a fair shout, but I’m maybe biased.
Irrespective of the pros and cons of the argument, it revealed the almost religious devotion so many of us have towards our football clubs.
I’m conscious too of the changes in the years I’ve covered football in the city.
One of the biggest is that fewer players live here now than previously.
In United’s glory days under Jim Mclean there was rule that players had to stay within a very tight radius of Dundee which fostered a terrific team spirit.
Now many of the players at both clubs will travel daily from Glasgow or the Edinburgh area.
Often only a small number of locally born players are in the squads, and in United’s case they don’t even train in the city, using St Andrews University grounds.
Players essentially are gladiators; travelling hired hands representing the two tribes and all their football hopes and dreams.