Sturgeon praises adviser reportedly sent white powder and says abuse must stop

Professor Devi Sridhar sits on the Scottish Government’s coronavirus advisory board.

16 April 2022

Nicola Sturgeon has said the “horrendous abuse” some women in the public eye face must stop after a Scottish Government scientific adviser revealed she was sent white powder in the post.

Professor Devi Sridhar, who sits on the Scottish Government’s coronavirus advisory board, was sent a used facemask marked with the words “I am done” in black ink and a small amount of white powder last July, The Times reported.

Prof Sridhar has commented on issues including vaccines and face coverings during the pandemic and has been subjected to abuse on social media.

However she told The Times that receiving something through the post felt different.

Prof Sridhar told the newspaper: “I was extremely shaken and it was probably the hardest part because it was in my real life, not virtual or online.

“I have thought often about withdrawing but it feels like, for better or worse, my job now also has a public dimension. Hopefully it’s helpful to have scientists out there explaining things for most people.”

She is a professor of global public health at Edinburgh University.

Scotland’s First Minister Ms Sturgeon said Prof Sridhar has been a “voice of reason” throughout the pandemic and said abuse has to stop.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Andy Buchanan/PA)

Asked about the incident involving the white powder, Ms Sturgeon told the PA news agency: “Obviously that is awful – I’m not going to go into the detail of that because that’s obviously for the appropriate authorities to look into.

“But Devi is an example of a high-profile, vocal woman who gets horrendous abuse through social media – she’s not alone in that but I know she has received that.

“Sometimes that abuse seems to be all the greater because she has been an adviser to my Government – a hugely important and valuable adviser to my Government, but one that has given very straight and at times uncomfortable advice to me and to my Government.

“She has been a real voice of reason and good sense throughout this pandemic, but like many women who put their heads above the parapet they face the most horrendous abuse and it’s got to stop.

“Social media companies and others really have to be part of putting a stop to it.”

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