Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Exclusive: John Swinney deletes Covid-19 breach evidence as SNP minister Graeme Dey ‘spoken to’ by police

John Swinney Covid breach
Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

John Swinney deleted evidence of another SNP Covid-19 breach on the campaign trail as the government minister responsible for setting the rules was “spoken to” by police over a separate incident.

Mr Swinney posted a picture on social media shortly after 3pm on Friday afternoon showing him meeting with four other party activists while out leafleting for May’s Scottish Parliament elections.

But the deputy first minister quietly deleted the image hours later after SNP bosses were approached for comment over a separate breach of legal restrictions involving the party’s parliamentary business minister Graeme Dey.

Candidates have been told a maximum of four people from two households are able to meet up for leafleting, similar to existing rules on gatherings, and that any work that cannot be done by a candidate or election agent from home is permitted.

John Swinney with SNP activists on the campaign trail in an apparent breach of Covid rules.

Mr Swinney’s social media post appears to show a direct breach of the rules but the Perthshire North candidate would not comment on why he deleted the image, which attracted more than 190 retweets and 1,300 likes before it was pulled down.

However, Mr Swinney did say: “A small number of my supporters were leafleting in the same town. We should not have gathered together at that time and I apologise for that.”

Rules breached ‘at first available opportunity’

Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Barrett, who is running against Mr Swinney in the Perthshire North constituency, said he was “disappointed” Mr Swinney chose to delete evidence of the breach rather than apologise immediately.

“Every candidate needs to set a good example, and that goes double for Cabinet ministers. Instead senior SNP figures have breached the rules at the first available opportunity,” Mr Barrett said.

“Perthshire North needs an MSP who will uphold high standards in public office.”

Murdo Fraser

Murdo Fraser, who is the Scottish Conservative candidate in the constituency, said: “This is very embarrassing for John Swinney, who, as deputy first minister, should be very aware of the various Covid restrictions.

“What this does illustrate is just how complicated the many Covid restrictions are, and how many of them are difficult to understand.

Sturgeon hits out at political ‘game playing’ after Salmond launches Alba Party

“The success of the UK Government’s vaccination programme should mean that we should start to see some of the restrictions starting to be eased, and this should result in situations like this not arising.”

Mr Swinney’s apology comes after Angus South candidate Graeme Dey offered his own “unreserved apologies” for breaking the government’s election rules on the first official day of campaigning.

Graeme Dey has apologised for breaching Covid election rules.

Mr Dey, who in his ministerial role was responsible for briefing MSPs on the rules around campaigning, asked at least eight people, some of whom appear to have travelled from other local authority areas, to gather near Carnoustie Beach on Thursday to help “mark the first day of the Scottish election campaign”.

He did not respond to a request for comment but an SNP spokesman said activists arranged a “small, outdoor, socially-distanced photograph” involving people from the nearby area but “unfortunately the ages and number of young people who came along exceeded the permitted numbers under current Covid guidance”.

Alex Salmond prepared to ‘sink differences’ with Nicola Sturgeon to achieve independence

We can reveal Mr Dey and several other individuals involved in the breach have now been spoken to by police, after officers were made aware of the incident on Friday.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Officers have since spoken to those involved and will continue to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance, and encourage compliance, using enforcement as a last resort.

“There were no fixed penalty notices issued.”

JIM CRUMLEY: Soil of Scottish independence grows more fertile with every Conservative voice that screeches ritual abuse against Nicola Sturgeon

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]