No fine for FM

Sturgeon escapes prosecution over face mask breach

Nicola Sturgeon will not be fined

Nicola Sturgeon will not face a police prosecution despite breaching her own law on face coverings.

The First Minister had been reported to the police after social media footage showed her mingling unmasked with customers during a visit to an East Kilbride barber’s shop while campaigning for the local elections.

Police Scotland has confirmed that local officers spoke to Ms Sturgeon to remind her of the importance of wearing a face covering when there is a legal requirement to do so. The law was still in place on Saturday when the incident took place.

In a statement, the force said: “Given the circumstances of this incident, Police Scotland is satisfied that no further action is necessary. This is in line with our proportionate approach throughout the pandemic.”

Earlier, Tory MSP Stephen Kerr said: “Sturgeon walked into a barbers without a mask, breaking the rules she’s spent two years intoning at us from behind her podium.”

The First Minister recently joined calls for Boris Johnson to resign as Prime Minister after he was fined for breaking his own Covid rules. Former Dragons’ Den star Duncan  Bannatyne cheekily tweeted: “Nicola Sturgeon is a very honourable lady and will do the right thing and show by example by resigning first thing tomorrow morning.”

Ms Sturgeon later apologised for the incident. She said: “On Saturday, while campaigning out outdoors in East Kilbride I was invited into a local barber shop. After a few seconds of being in the shop, I realised I had forgotten to put my face covering back on. I then immediately put it on.

“However, I accept that not wearing a face covering even for a few seconds was an error on my part and I am sorry for that.

“Having received complaints about the matter, Police Scotland made contact with me.

“This is what they would have done with anyone else in these circumstances, and they were absolutely right to treat me no differently to any other citizen.

“I explained that the error was inadvertent and the police have confirmed that the matter is closed.

“While the law no longer requires face coverings to be worn, I will continue to do so in circumstances where this can help reduce the risk of infection, and I encourage everyone to do likewise.”

The requirement for face coverings in indoor settings in Scotland has now switched to guidance.

Sandesh Gulhane: this is blatant hypocrisy (pic: Terry Murden)

It applies to anyone entering most indoor public places in Scotland, including shops, public transport and hairdressers. 

The row deepened when Scotland’s chief medical officer Professor Jason Leitch appeared to defend the First Minister.

“My understanding is it was a matter of seconds,” he said. “She realises the place is crowded, puts her face covering on, which is actually what we’re asking people to do.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Craig Hoy said it was inappropriate for a civil servant to defend the First Minister’s actions.

He said: “These kinds of questions should be left to politicians to answer. Instead, SNP ministers are in hiding and Jason Leitch is blurring the lines between ministers and government officials.”

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP said: “The video clearly shows Nicola Sturgeon isn’t practising what she preaches on facemasks.

“She’s happy virtue signalling for official photos but behind closed doors it’s clear she doesn’t believe in her own rules so why should anyone else.

“This is blatant hypocrisy from the First Minister who has now shown her true colours.

“The public, who have been under these legal Covid restrictions for over two years, deserve an apology for this rule break.'”

Ms Sturgeon apologised after breaching Covid rules taking off her face mask at a funeral wake in December 2020.

She described her actions as “a stupid mistake”.

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