SNP minister Michael Matheson to be probed over £11,000 iPad data bill
Scottish health secretary Michael Matheson to be probed over £11,000 data bill on his official iPad – as Humza Yousaf’s deputy is mocked over her claim SNP ministers ‘aim’ to tell the truth
Scottish health secretary Michael Matheson will be probed by Holyrood officials over the near-£11,000 data bill he racked up on his parliamentary iPad while on holiday.
The SNP minister has faced intense scrutiny over how he managed to incur the eye-watering roaming fee while on a Christmas break to Morocco last year.
He last week admitted in an emotional statement to the Scottish Parliament that his teenage sons had used the official device to watch football while abroad.
This was despite him having previously insisted there had been no personal use of the iPad.
Mr Matheson had also initially tried to leave taxpayers to pick up the bill, although he has now said he will pay the full costs himself.
SNP leader Humza Yousaf came under fresh pressure over the row today as he was quizzed again about why he hadn’t sacked the minister.
It came after Mr Yousaf’s deputy, Shona Robison, was mocked over her insistence that Scottish Government ministers ‘aim’ to tell the truth.
Scottish health secretary Michael Matheson will be probed by Holyrood officials over the near-£11,000 data bill he racked up on his parliamentary iPad while on holiday
SNP leader Humza Yousaf came under fresh pressure over the row today as he was quizzed again about why he hadn’t sacked the minister
Mr Yousaf’s deputy, Shona Robison, was mocked over her insistence that Scottish Government ministers ‘aim’ to tell the truth
The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body will investigate Mr Matheson’s data roaming bill and could potentially refer him to the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.
The probe will look at whether the claims for £11,000 of taxpayers’ cash were ‘proper’ and met the requirements of MSPs’ expenses scheme.
It will also consider ‘whether resources were used for parliamentary purposes in accordance with all SPCB policies’, a Scottish Parliament spokesman said.
If Mr Matheson is referred to the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, it could result in him losing access to ‘all or part’ of his parliamentary expenses.
Other unspecified action can be taken if he was found to have misused parliamentary ‘facilities and services’.
Mr Matheson vowed to ‘fully co-operate’, telling journalists: ‘I welcome the decision by the corporate body, which follows on my writing to them last week asking them to investigate this matter.
‘Of course I’ll fully co-operate with their investigation and it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment further.’
During First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, Mr Yousaf accepted Mr Matheson had ‘absolutely’ made mistakes in his handling of the matter.
It came after Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross pressed the SNP leader on whether Mr Matheson had been ‘telling the truth’ when he repeatedly denied there had been any personal use of his iPad.
Mr Ross accused Mr Matheson of trying ‘to dupe the taxpayer out of £11,000’, adding: ‘If Government ministers need to be honest, why is Michael Matheson still in a job?’
Mr Yousaf replied: ‘Michael Matheson accepts and admitted to this chamber that he made mistakes in the handling. He did what he did to protect his teenage boys.
‘Did he make mistakes? Absolutely. Has he admitted that? Absolutely. Has he agreed to pay back the full amount? Absolutely.’
The First Minister also swiped at Mr Ross over how the Scottish Tory leader himself had previously had to apologise after failing to declare £28,000 in earnings.
Their clash in the Scottish Parliament came after Ms Robison, the Deputy First Minister, insisted SNP ministers ‘aim’ to tell the truth.
‘I aim, and the Scottish Government aims, to do that,’ she told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme.
‘Michael Matheson made clear in his statement that he was trying to protect his family from being part of the associated political and media scrutiny.’
Asked if that means it is acceptable for ministers to lie to protect their families, Ms Robison replied : ‘No, I didn’t say that.
‘What I am saying is Michael Matheson set out the reasons that he was trying to protect his family, he set all that out to Parliament.
‘He has said he will co-operate with any inquiry that is established.’
Ms Robison’s comments were mocked by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.
He asked Mr Yousaf at FMQs: ‘People have known for a long time that this Government has a problem with the truth, but is this now the official Government position?’
The First Minister replied: ‘We should all be telling the truth in our interactions, whatever they are and wherever they occur.’
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