Questions concerning issues faced during the COVID-19 pandemic: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

1.  Is it not the case that the First Minister's failure to order lockdown early enough caused the death of 2,000 citizens in Scotland?

2.  What is the name of the expert/s that was/were advising the First Minister about lockdown during the first three weeks of March 2020?

3.  How many reports did that expert/those experts produce on the introduction of lockdown in the first three weeks of March 2020?  Have these Reports been published?  If not will they be published?  If not why not?

4.  Events have shown without doubt that lockdown should have been introduced earlier than it was.  Accordingly the expert advice was not competent.  Given that background, has that expert/those experts been dismissed?  If not why not?

5.  What steps were taken in Scotland as a result of the coronavirus simulation held in Scotland in 2018?

6.  How many care home residents who were taken into hospital were returned to their care home without being tested for Covid-19 for each week between 15 March 2020 until 29 August 2020?

7.  Many members of the public who had symptoms of other conditions or were due to undergo routine health checks failed to report these conditions or did not take up screening appointments.  This will result in patients whose conditions would have been picked up had they gone to their GP or out-patient services suffering poorer health and death in some cases for years to come.  Why did the Scottish Government not publicise the availability of other health support services in March, April and May of this year?

8.  Much has been made of how complex the disease situation has been and continues to be.  I don't agree.  The disease was much more prevalent in other countries significantly earlier than it became so in Scotland.  The intelligent approach in those circumstances was to learn from the other countries where the virus had been encountered.  So the Scottish Government should have adopted policies similar to those in Australia or New Zealand.  Equally it should not have followed the steps taken in countries like Italy.

9.  If a politician follows expert guidance and that expert guidance turns out to be wrong resulting in the avoidable deaths of a significant number of citizens don't moralistic considerations mean that politicians should accept responsibility and resign?


You have asked a total of 9 questions. The scope of FOISA only extends to recorded information held by a Scottish public authority therefore questions 1, 4, 7, 8 and 9 do not fall to be answered within the scope of FOISA. This is because these questions ask for either a policy explanation, advice or opinion as opposed to recorded information. I have therefore provided a response to these questions in the Annex attached.

Questions 2, 3, 5 and 6 fall to be answered under FOISA. I have responded to each question in turn below:

2. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic the Scottish Government has taken advice from public figures and advisory bodies to guide our response to the national health crisis. Specifically during the first three weeks the Scottish Government were advised in their response by:

The Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Dr Catherine Calderwood (CMO). Details of how the Directorate under the CMO is run can be found here: Chief Medical Officer Directorate - (

The Clinical Director, Professor Jason Leitch.

In addition we took advice from Health Protection Scotland (HPS) and Public Health Scotland (PHS). The HPS website has some information about many of the key HPS people providing public health advice to us: HPS Website - Meet the team (

Similarly the PHS website has information about the board and senior team: Our board and Senior Leadership Team - Our organisation - Public Health Scotland/.

3. There were no specific reports produced in the timeframe you indicate in your request. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) that this information is not held.

5. The Scottish Government does not have this information. The Scottish Government did not undertake a coronavirus simulation in 2018. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) that this information is not held.

You may however find it helpful to note that Exercise Silver Swan was a series of events held in 2015 which assessed the preparedness and response of Scotland’s local and national arrangements to a pandemic influenza outbreak over a prolonged period. Further information in relation to this exercise which may be of interest to you is available here.

In addition, a cross-government exercise to test the UK’s response to a serious influenza pandemic was undertaken by the Department of Health and Social Care in 2016. Information, including the report document in relation to Exercise Cygnus is available here.

6. The Scottish Government does not hold this information. Public Health Scotland (PHS) are responsible, as part of their remit, for the surveillance and monitoring of infectious diseases. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

PHS were commissioned to report on discharges from NHS hospitals to care homes during the first wave of the pandemic. This was published on 28 October 2020 and a copy of the report can be found here:

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI 202000087292 - Annex


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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