The first day of the Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry has been criticized by bereaved families for its "shameful and shambolic" start.
The inquiry, held in Dundee, heard from Dr Ashley Croft, a consultant in public health, who has been accused of vaccine
Campaigners condemned the selection of Dr Croft as an expert and accused the inquiry of laughing during proceedings and showing a lack of respect for those who had died from the virus.
Dr Croft defended his record and maintained that he does not hold views that have been "debunked".
He was commissioned to write a report on the scientific and medical understanding of Covid
-19 as it existed in late 2019 and as it developed during the pandemic.
The report concludes that vaccines
"reduce, or probably reduce" the number of people who get the virus and suffer serious disease.
However, Dr Croft said it "remains unclear if Covid
vaccinations resulted in fewer deaths." Dr Croft has been criticized in the press for his 2019 report which makes a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination and autism.
The connection was first made in Dr Andrew Wakefield's now discredited 1998 study, but studies have overwhelmingly found no link since.
Campaigners questioned Dr Croft's qualifications to advise the inquiry.
He said he had the necessary qualifications and added that he was an independent "educated and self-educated observer".
Margaret Waterton, who lost her mother and husband to Covid
-19, said Dr Croft was "not an expert" and had not fully refuted the suggestion that he held discredited views.
Aamer Anwar, the lead solicitor for the Scottish Covid
Bereaved group, said families were promised they would be "front and centre" of the public inquiry.
However, campaigners said the Scottish inquiry, chaired by Lord Brailsford, was not up to the "gold standard" of the UK one.
They raised issues including "incorrect terminology" in Dr Croft's contribution and "disrespectful" laughter during the proceedings.
The group also took issue with the The report presented by Dr. Croft, a veterinarian and toxicologist, in the inquiry is based on his professional expertise and holds no bias towards any particular view.
The report, like any other evidence received by the inquiry, does not influence the eventual findings and recommendations of the inquiry.
Dr. Croft will continue his participation in the inquiry on Thursday.