Sturgeon ’emphatically’ distances SNP from host’s conspiracy theory posts

By Neil Pooran, PA Scotland Political Reporter
·3-min read

Nicola Sturgeon has said she “emphatically” distances herself and the SNP from conspiracy theory views previously expressed by the party’s conference host.

TV presenter Hayley Matthews hosted the SNP’s online conference over the weekend and Monday, introducing several speakers.

In October, she tweeted that she “would not let my kid have a flu jab or any Covid shite” and indicated her support for conspiracy theorists several times online.

She has tweeted in support of an account which spreads the “QAnon” conspiracy theory – which alleges there is a vast plot against Donald Trump.

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The presenter, who also wrote a blog on parenthood before deleting her social media, told the Daily Record she was “not an anti-vaxxer” as the newspaper published her posts on Monday morning.

The First Minister was asked about Ms Matthews’ views at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing later on Monday.

She said Ms Matthews was a “professional presenter” who had been hired for the online conference.

The First Minister said: “The views that I’ve seen attributed to her in the media today are absolutely emphatically not the views of the SNP and not the views of the Scottish Government.

“I read a comment from her this morning that says she will absolutely get the vaccine when it is available.

“But let me be very clear, I’ve stood up here almost every day for nine months to advise people about public health risks.

“I will continue to advise people to do the right things and when the time comes to get the vaccine, so clearly these are not views I would endorse in any way, shape or form.”

The First Minister also said she would “look into” Ms Matthews’ involvement with the Parent Club website.

The TV presenter has previously tweeted about working with the Scottish Government website’s “summer support” campaign for parents.

In October, Ms Matthews’ shared a post from a QAnon-supporting account which said those who wear face masks are “idiots”.

When the same account shared a conspiracy theory equating vaccination to “slaughter”, she replied saying “Would not let my kid have a flu jab or have any covid shite! Love from Scotland”.

She also shared a tweet from President Trump saying “fake news is the enemy of the people” and liked posts from Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown which opposed masks and vaccines.

Ms Matthews later told the Daily Record: “As I stated in my Edinburgh Evening News column, I’m not an anti-vaxxer.

“The pandemic has been tough for all of us and I’m sure I’m not alone in learning how to keep safe. I’ll be getting vaccinated as soon as it is offered to me.”

The Scottish Conservatives’ health spokesman Donald Cameron said: “The SNP must explain why they are continuing to associate themselves with someone who holds these deeply suspect views.

“People are understandably excited about the prospect of an imminent vaccine and everyone should be encouraging uptake among the public.

“The SNP must ensure that they distance themselves from this individual and guarantee that no misinformation was spread through her involvement with this important parenting group.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said information shared from its Parent Club site was controlled centrally and apart from details of the seasonal childhood flu vaccine, no information on vaccines had been shared by the website or its social media channels.

The spokeswoman said: “Our work with Ms Matthews concluded some months ago.”