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Nicola Sturgeon ‘seriously distorted Covid figures to suggest Scotland is better off than England’

Nicola Sturgeon accused of ‘twisting’ Covid figures to make England look worse as Lib Dems report her to UK statistics watchdog

  • Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of twisting Covid figures to favor Scotland
  • SNP leader has claimed infection rate in England is more than 20 percent higher
  • Lib Dems complained that it misrepresents the difference between nations



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Nicola Sturgeon was accused today of ‘twisting’ Covid figures in a bid to show Scotland is doing better than England under its tighter lockdown.

The Prime Minister was reported to the UK Statistics Authority by the Scottish Liberal Democrats yesterday about her use of numbers in Holyrood.

During the Prime Minister’s questions, Ms Sturgeon referred to estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) saying that the infection rate in England is ‘more than 20 per cent higher than that in Scotland’.

The ONS figures show that 5.47 percent of people in England are infected, compared to 4.49 percent in Scotland.

The UK figure can be calculated as 21.83 per cent higher than Scotland’s, but the Scottish Liberal Democrats have objected to the claim because there is only a 0.98 percentage point difference between the two figures.

Nicola Sturgeon was reported yesterday by the Scottish Liberal Democrats to the UK Statistics Authority about her use of numbers in Holyrood

Nicola Sturgeon was reported yesterday by the Scottish Liberal Democrats to the UK Statistics Authority about her use of numbers in Holyrood

In a letter to Sir David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie wrote: ‘The public has a right to always expect the Scottish Government’s interpretation of data to be robust.

“That’s even more important if that data is used to justify and substantiate restrictions on freedom using emergency powers.

Parliament has granted powers to ministers that would not be tolerated in other circumstances, so it is essential to monitor how they are used.

“The public’s confidence in these statistics should not be jeopardized. There should be no bias, spin or manipulation. However, I’m afraid these statistics are seriously distorted.’

It is the second time in recent weeks that a senior government leader has been reported to the watchdog, with Labor previously accusing Deputy Prime Minister John Swinney of misrepresenting the impact of the coronavirus restrictions in Scotland.

Mr Swinney, who is also the Scottish Government’s Covid Recovery Secretary, suggested that Covid rates in Scotland were lower than in England due to additional measures north of the border.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland program on January 4, he suggested that ONS figures showing that one in 40 Scots was infected, compared with one in 25 in England, “were the strongest evidence that the measures taken in Scotland have taken steps to protect the population from Covid’.

But the figures Mr Swinney cites are from before the Scottish Government imposed additional restrictions.

In November, the Scottish Government was reprimanded by the UK Statistics Authority for comments made by Mr Swinney about the use of Test and Protect data.

Responding to a letter from Jackie Baillie, the Scottish Labor Health spokeswoman, Sir David said the Scottish Government should be “clarified about the limitations when comparing the figures for Scotland (published by Public Health Scotland) with the World Health Organization target for contact tracing’.

The organization’s director general for regulations, Ed Humpherson, then wrote to the government on how to present the numbers more accurately.

In a letter to Sir David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie (pictured) wrote: 'The public has a right to always expect the Scottish Government's interpretation of data to be robust.'

In a letter to Sir David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie (pictured) wrote: 'The public has a right to always expect the Scottish Government's interpretation of data to be robust.'

In a letter to Sir David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie (pictured) wrote: ‘The public has a right to always expect the Scottish Government’s interpretation of data to be robust.’

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