Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson to be investigated over £11,000 iPad bill
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It came as the First Minister Humza Yousaf continued to defend his ally at First Minister’s Questions, but faced a difficult day as he attempted to defend Mr Matheson’s incorrect statements to the press.
Mr Matheson, the health secretary, revealed last week in an emotional statement to MSPs that his teenage sons had used the device as a hotspot so they could watch football while on a family holiday to Morocco.
The bill for the data roaming charges was initially paid by the public purse, but Mr Matheson reimbursed the Scottish Parliament after learning what happened when the row first erupted two weeks ago.
But he failed to publicly mention his sons’ involvement until last Thursday – initially blaming an outdated Sim card in the device for the high costs, and insisting he had only used the iPad for parliamentary work.
This has led to questions being asked about whether Mr Matheson misled both journalists and the public over the matter. He said he initially chose not to mention his children to protect his family.
Mr Matheson referred himself to the SPCB, a cross-party group of MSPs that oversees the running of the Scottish Parliament, last week.
A spokesperson for the SPCB said: “The SPCB met this morning to consider its next steps with regard to Michael Matheson’s statement to Parliament last week.
“While, as previously made clear, there is no mechanism for Members to self-refer to the SPCB, the Corporate Body has a vital interest in the integrity of the Members’ Expenses Scheme, the principle that SPCB funded resources are used for parliamentary purposes and that there is public confidence in these matters.
“The Corporate Body will therefore undertake an investigation in line with its duties under the MSP Code of Conduct.
“The investigation will consider whether the claims for £11,000 of public money, incurred through data roaming charges, were proper and met the requirements of the Scheme and whether resources were used for parliamentary purposes in accordance with all SPCB policies.
“The SPCB will seek to conclude its investigation promptly and its findings in fact, will be published. Depending on those findings, there may be a number of options open to the SPCB, as set out in Section 9 of the Code of Conduct, including referral to the SPPA Committee.
“In the interest of fairness to all, and to avoid prejudicing its investigation, the SPCB will, as of now, not comment on any matters that could have a bearing on this process or provide a running commentary.
“It is important to stress however that the Corporate Body remains wholly committed to openness and transparency and will release all material it can, when it can, in line with its legal obligations.”
Asked questions as he left the Holyrood chamber, Mr Matheson said: “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.”
He refused to answer questions on whether he was a liar.