Mark Drakeford says he has WhatsApp but does not use it

Mark Drakeford has clarified that he has WhatsApp downloaded on a phone but does not use the app Credit: PA

Mark Drakeford has written to the Senedd’s Llywydd to clarify that he does, after all, have WhatsApp downloaded on a phone, but that he doesn’t use it. 

During yesterday’s First Minister’s Questions, he was asked about the use of WhatsApp messages by the Welsh Government during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Such use has become part of political debate following the focus of the UK Covid Inquiry on methods of communication in UK Government. 

The Welsh Conservative leader sent an open letter to Mark Drakeford. Credit: Welsh Conservatives

It has intensified after revelations that politicians and officials in the UK and Scottish Governments used "disappearing messages," which deletes exchanges after a certain period. 

In the Senedd chamber, Mark Drakeford joked that he didn’t delete messages because he didn’t know how and didn’t have WhatsApp anyway. 

That was later challenged by the Welsh Conservatives who wrote a letter to him with a screenshot apparently showing a WhatsApp account in his name. 

Andrew RT Davies said Mr Drakeford's claim he does not use WhatsApp "gave the wrong impression" and provided this screenshot. Credit: Welsh Conservatives

Now, the First Minister has acknowledged that WhatsApp is on a phone that he had been given by the Senedd. 

He has asked Elin Jones, the Llywydd - or Presiding Officer - to amend the record to reflect that fact, even though he said that he does not regularly use WhatsApp to send messages.

However, he also reiterated what he said during First Minster’s Questions - that the Welsh Government did not use informal means of communication to make decisions during the pandemic.

He also reiterated his pledge to cooperate fully with the UK Covid-19 inquiry and to hand over all material requested, including WhatsApp messages.

The First Minister's official spokesman later added that "staff were regularly reminded of the need to maintain and retain robust records relating to decisions taken throughout the pandemic."

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives at the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies, said “It is welcome that the First Minister has corrected the record after not being clear in the Senedd yesterday.“However, more questions remain about how many Welsh Government devices used WhatsApp during the pandemic and by who.“Crucially we need to know how many were deleting messages in the early stages of Covid when life and death decisions were being made in Wales, especially over care home testing.”