Nicola Sturgeon accused Humza Yousaf of showing “disrespect” towards Kate Forbes during a stormy Cabinet meeting, the UK Covid Inquiry has heard.
The former first minister admitted she had pulled up her successor after he offered money from the health budget to help businesses in December 2021.
This was despite the then finance secretary having said there was no money that could be reallocated.
Speaking at the UK Covid Inquiry, Sturgeon said Yousaf, who was health secretary at the time, “seemed to take the feet from” Forbes and had done her “a disservice”.
This came after Yousaf had raised the issue with the ex-SNP leader beforehand and she had told him to speak to Forbes.
Sturgeon said: “I expected all my ministers to operate on a basis of mutual respect and making sure that they were operating collegiately.
“In that moment, I didn’t think that was the case and I was not particularly happy about it. I have to concede that.”
She added: “I think that was exacerbated by the fact that… some time a couple of weeks before that Mr Yousaf had indicated to me on WhatsApp that he might be able to find some money in this order and my response to him was ‘Speak to Kate’.
“And at that meeting it appeared that he hadn’t done so.”
Sturgeon said she had asked Forbes if the Scottish Government could redirect some of its budget to help businesses.
She said Forbes reported back that “there wasn’t really any money of any significant scale” to allocate and then Yousaf said he could make money available.
The inquiry heard on Monday that Sturgeon began “ranting” at Humza Yousaf at a stormy Scottish Government meeting during the coronavirus pandemic.
Yousaf, who was then serving as Health Secretary, had suggested at Cabinet the government should consider reallocating £100m of health funding to support for businesses if tougher limits on social gatherings were introduced.
Leitch, the National Clinical Director, told Yousaf he had been watching the meeting and branded Sturgeon’s reaction to him as “absolutely ridiculous”.
The text conversation was shown to John Swinney at the UK Covid Inquiry on Monday as an example of how the then first minister conducted meetings of her Cabinet.
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