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Labour reports Scotland's Deputy First Minister to Statistics Authority over ‘spin’

SCOTLAND’S Deputy First Minister was reported to the Statistics Authority today over comments which the opposition have branded a “spin.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie claimed that John Swinney made comments on national radio earlier this month wrongly using statistics.

Ms Baillie has said that public trust in the actions of the Scottish government is of paramount importance and that it has a duty to present the facts as they are and not as it wishes them to be. 

The concerns were sparked after Mr Swinney spoke on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Tuesday.

In the letter to the authority, Ms Baillie wrote that Mr Swinney, who also acts as Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery, wrongly used statistics from before the festive period to suggest that restrictions across Scotland were lower than that of England. 

In reality, the latest infection survey from the Office for National Statistics, to the week ending December 31, shows that one in 20 Scots have contracted Covid-19, not one in 40, as claimed. 

She said that the statistics cited represented different weeks in the pandemic, and the accurate numbers “contrast sharply with the narrative presented by Mr Swinney.”

She wrote that this had been “deliberate spin deployed by the Deputy First Minister.”

Ms Baillie said: “Public trust in the actions of the Scottish government is of paramount importance, but it risks being eroded due to selective and erroneous use of statistics by senior figures such as Mr Swinney. 

“The Scottish government has a duty to present the people of Scotland with the facts as they are, not as the government would wish them to be.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “These claims are totally unfounded. Prior to Boxing Day there were already substantial differences in Covid-19 protections between Scotland and England — most importantly on wearing face coverings.

“The Deputy First Minister made the entirely valid point that the different approach we are taking in Scotland is helping protect the population from the virus, using the latest available ONS data published at the time.”

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