Jeane Freeman apologises to UK health chiefs after ‘sensitive’ vaccine details revealed

The Scottish health secretary apologised to Matt Hancock and counterparts across the UK after publicising “sensitive” details of vaccine supplies.

SNP minister Jeane Freeman contacted the UK Government health chief on Thursday night after concerns about the level of information placed online by the Scottish Government.

The 16-page document explained how Nicola Sturgeon’s administration hopes to vaccinate 4.5 million Scots as quickly as possible.

But it was quickly taken down after complaints from Conservatives who are now pushing for an official probe on Freeman’s conduct.

At Friday’s televised coronavirus briefing, Freeman said she “regrets” what happened, but added: “It has not damaged the relationships between myself and the secretary of state at UK Government level or my colleagues in Wales and Northern Ireland. I know that because I spoke to all four of them last night.”

Despite the explanation, Scottish Tories called for a formal investigation led by the First Minister.

In a letter to Sturgeon, Tory health spokesman Donald Cameron said the “ministerial code” underlines the need to safeguard the “integrity and confidentiality” of government business.

Cameron said: “The SNP Government itself has admitted they got this wrong. They asked journalists not to report a secret location, the Covid plan was removed within hours and the First Minister acknowledged the flaws in publishing restricted supply figures.

“These multiple blunders in the space of 24 hours have risked shaking public confidence in the government’s handling of the Covid vaccine.”

Freeman said the information was included by mistake. She insisted details of vaccine supplies were being looked at in a genuine attempt to answer questions about the pace of Scotland’s plans.

Freeman said: “I take issues of sensitive and confidential information really seriously. A mistake was made in the plan that was published where some of that information was put into that plan. As soon as we were aware of that we took the plan down.

“I have apologised for that to my colleagues in the other four nations and to any others who have been impacted on that.

“None of this was done in order to cause upset. It was done in order to be as transparent as possible, answering the perfectly reasonable questions people across Scotland have about the vaccination programme and that I think as the health secretary, I have a responsibility to answer.”

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