Fraser Nelson? Andrew Neil? Ian Murray?

By Brenda Steele:

This is from an exchange between Alex Gallagher and me in Richard Murphy’s excellent Tax Research UK blog:

I want to fill you in on information related to statements made by one commenter. This is the paragraph in question:

Alex Gallagher

Also, in case it’s not been noticed south of the border, Sturgeon’s handling of the pandemic has been as bad, even worse in some respects than Johnson’s. It’s not as if we were not warned. Apart from Cygnus, a UK wide review, there were three reports specifically for the Scottish Government, that told of lack or equipment and processes to handle a pandemic, but it appears, just as at UK level, that the warnings were ignored, and the necessary preparations were never made. The first significant outbreak was at a Nike conference in Edinburgh, 25 cases, not properly tracked, but it was covered up by the First Minister. Had it been known to the public, pressure for an earlier lock down would have been likely. Instead concerts and sporting events were allowed to continue, including the Scotland-France rugby on the 8th March. The Old Firm game of 15th March was cancelled by the SPL, not the Scottish Government. BBC Scotland’s Disclosure programme calculated that a two week delay could have cost two thousand Scottish lives over the following month.

My response:

Scotland never ran out of PPE, unlike in England. Private Care Homes did, but they are not the responsibility of Scot Gov.

The best known outbreak is the one on Skye where the infection is thought to have come from an employee transferred up from Kent during lockdown by the owners HC-One. Within the last 2 or 3 weeks we have heard that there was an outbreak at a home in Peterhead, again private. Nearby Moray has only been showing infections since early to mid April which may or may not be connected with the construction workers that the Ministry of Defence sent up to work on Army property during lockdown – they were put up at Lossiemouth hotels. Note that construction is not allowed in Scotland under lockdown.

There is one other major outbreak area that I know of, and that is Greenock.. That may or may not be related to Peel Ports, who brought cruise ships in during early March and off-loaded crews at a time when the impact of presymptomatic and asymptomatic was not known. They currently have at least one cruise ship newly arrived in Glasgow. Greenock is still described as Coronavirus-stricken by the local newspaper.

Mr Gallagher is quite wrong to claim that the Nike Conference at Edinburgh was the first significant outbreak. It was NOT. The first confirmed case in Scotland was in Dundee/Tayside. The person who tested positive had returned from a ski trip in Italy in February. Dundee/Tayside is one of the harder hit areas and to this day features regularly on 

in At a glance under Regions for their high rate of infections and testing.

As regards the claim of “25 cases not properly tracked,” I presume Mr Gallagher, is complaining about the 3 groups the UKMSM found. The UKMSM claims that they should have been contacted and told.

Firstly there is a Kilt fitter who kitted out 10 “delegates” to the conference – which happens to be the number of the Scottish contingent – the fitting took placetwo days before the conference started. She claims that she and co-workers were ill with “flu-like symptoms” shortly afterwards.

Employees of Lloyds Bank shared common facilities in the hotel on the first day. The Lloyds office was closed about 2 ½ weeks later because of a single Covid-19 case. It may or may not be connected.

There was also a group of 3 tour guides who each took a group of about 20 for an hour long walking tour round Edinburgh old town on the second day of the conference. None of the guides became ill.

I must admit that the description of the attendees at the Nike conference as “delegates” amuses me. It imbues the event with an importance it does not deserve. I know of no commercial company event where the attendees have any voting functions. The kilt lady is not the only one to describe them in this way.

There were seventy attendees at the conference. Of those ten were Scottish. Of those ten, eight contracted Covid-19. The Scottish Government became aware via international notification when one of the attendees was tested on returning home “overseas”. It should be noted that Nike World Headquarters (Portland OR) announced a deep clean of their premises on the Sunday before ScotGov received the notification (on the Monday). The Nike European HQ (Hilversum) also announced a deep clean on that same Monday and admitted a Covid-19 case. Nike Corporate HQ in London announced deep clean a day or two later. None mentioned the conference.

I do not know where the 60 other attendees came from although I can identify several Nike premises in both Scotland and England that were deep-cleaned (in local Newspaper reports). The Newcastle outbreak has been traced to a Nike employee who was at the conference – the local Nike Corporate Offices, Doxford Park were among those premises were deep cleaned. However, the tracing of that particular individual and their contacts was the responsibility of the English authorities as would be all other attendees from England.

I do not know if the Alex Gallagher of the comment is Alex Gallagher the Labour Councillor, who is North Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, but it would not surprise me. Both he and Ian Murray the sole Labour MP in Scotland are making the same claims about the “cover-up” by the FM. They both display the same lamentable ignorance of the data protection laws about patient confidentiality. To my mind that simply proves their unfitness for public office. Having the matter splashed across the front pages of the tabloids could lead to identification of individuals who might then spend their period of self isolation with a press pack encamped at the end of their driveway. I cannot for the life of me see how that would encourage any of the Nike staff to cooperate fully with the tracers. I suspect it would also render ScotGov open to legal action.

Of course, Westminster holds the purse strings and ScotGov could not have acted earlier without jeopardizing funding from WM. The UKMSM Labour Lib-Dem and above all Conservatives choose not to recognise this reality.

I also think that the makers of the Disclosure program should be held responsible for misinforming the public as to the laws which regulate the activities of their government.