SNP conference backlash: Sturgeon grilled on employing vaccine sceptic to host event

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Scotland’s First Minister stated that Hayley Mathews is a professional presenter that the SNP hired as part of the technical team to “stitch the conference together”. Ms Sturgeon stressed that the views on coronavirus attributed to Ms Mathews are not shared by the SNP.

Ms Matthews had reportedly claimed in a newspaper column: “The big pharma companies assure us they’re safe however, the less chemicals pumped in us, surely the better, no? I started researching heavy metal detoxing and the benefits on child behaviours and adult health so I’m going to give it a go as the metals in these vaccines worry me greatly. 

“So that’s why I’ve decided not to get the flu jab or give it to my eight-year-old.”

But the First Minister was quick to distance herself and the SNP from the reported remarks.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I don’t want to go too far into the SNP conference as this is not a forum for that but I have seen the reports in the media today.

“Hayley Matthews is a professional presenter that we have hired as part of the technical team to stitch together the online conference we were having.

“The views that I have seen attributed to her in the media today are absolutely emphatically not the views of the SNP and obviously not the views of the Scottish Government.

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

“But let me be very clear I have stood up here almost every day for nine months to advise people about public health risks and when the time comes to get the vaccine clearly these are not views that I would endorse in any way shape or form.”

An SNP spokesperson gave a statement from Ms Matthews which read: “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.”

During the press briefing, Scotland First Minister also announced the expansion of the support grant to help those on low-incomes in Scotland.

The SNP leader stated that she hoped this would help more people do the right thing and self-isolate if they are required to do so. 

Ms Sturgeon said: “Children will sometimes be contacts and will sometimes therefore be advised to self-isolate.

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“Self-isolation is a crucial way in which we can stop people who have the virus or who might have the virus but aren’t yet infected from going out and about and transmitting it to others.

“So it’s an important contribution that we all might need to make at some time and it’s important that when we are advised to do so, we follow that advice.

“But we recognise that self-isolation for a period of 10 or 14 days is a really tough thing to be asking people to do and is particularly tough for people on low incomes who might not be able or be less able to work from home and be less likely to have access to statutory sick pay.

“We don’t want anyone to feel that they’re having to choose between self-isolating and feeding themselves and their family, so I hope today’s expansion of the support grant will help more people do the right thing if they or their children are asked to self isolate.”

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