Michael Matheson over £11,000 iPad Bill, he also brought the parliamentary iPad with him on a week-long family trip to Morocco around Christmas last year. His iPad roaming charges, not phone calls, came to roughly £11,000.
Michael Matheson Over £11,000 iPad Bill
As the debate over Michael Matheson’s £11,000 iPad bill rages on, the cross-party committee in charge of the Scottish parliament has opened an investigation into him.
It comes after Scottish government ministers “aim” to speak the truth, as doubts persist about whether the Scottish health secretary misled the public about the data roaming charges incurred on his parliamentary device.
During a testimony to Holyrood last week, Mr Matheson held back tears as he acknowledged his teenage kids had used the iPad as a hotspot to watch football while on a family vacation in Morocco.
The roughly £11,000 data roaming charge was first paid for by taxpayers after Mr Matheson claimed he ran up the astronomical amount while doing constituency work during the week-long holiday last winter.
Following the story’s initial coverage earlier this month, the Falkirk West MSP claimed he was informed by his wife that his sons had been streaming football.Mr Matheson, who earns £118,511 as Scotland’s cabinet secretary for NHS recovery, health, and social care, then agreed to repay the money to the Scottish parliament.
Mr Matheson stated in his statement to Holyrood that he would report the matter to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) for investigation. The SPCB convened on Thursday morning and announced that it will conduct an investigation in accordance with its obligations under the MSP Code of Conduct.
A spokesman for the Scottish Parliament said: “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 [Members’ Expenses Scheme] and whether resources were used for parliamentary purposes in accordance with all SPCB policies.”
The SPCB has promised to complete its investigation “promptly” and to disclose its findings. Depending on the outcomes, the SPCB may have a number of alternatives, including referral to the Standards, Procedures, and Public Appointments (SPPA) Committee.
The First Minister’s Questions on Thursday
Mr Matheson told reporters after First Minister’s Questions on Thursday that he would “fully cooperate” with the probe. Notwithstanding his wife’s admission, Mr Matheson first avoided mentioning his sons’ involvement publicly. Instead, he maintained that the iPad was only used for parliamentary work and blamed the high price on an obsolete SIM card.
When confronted by media days later, he maintained to deny that the iPad was used for personal purposes. Mr Matheson then described what transpired after a breakdown of the bill was released via FOI, which led to opposition MSPs assuming that the iPad was used to view a Rangers and Celtic game.
During his presentation to the Scottish parliament, Mr Matheson acknowledged that “mistakes” had been made by himself and his family, but emphasised that he had sought to “protect” his children from “political and media scrutiny” by not mentioning their role earlier.
When asked if ministers “always tell parliament and the public the truth,” deputy first minister Shona Robison said on Thursday’s Good Morning Scotland show on BBC Radio Scotland: “I aim, and the Scottish government aims, to do that.”
“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.”
When asked if this meant ministers can lie to protect their families, Ms Robison insisted, “No, I didn’t say that.”
“What I mean is that Michael Matheson went to parliament and explained why he was trying to protect his family. “He has said he will cooperate with any inquiry that is established.”
Several colleagues, including First Minister Humza Yousaf, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon, and SNP deputy leader Keith Brown, support Mr Matheson. Mr Matheson was praised as a “man of integrity, honesty” by Mr Yousaf.
Following Mr Yousaf’s criticism during First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross welcomed the investigation but stated that the “SNP government can’t hide behind it.”
“Michael Matheson gave parliament written assurances that this £11,000 bill was the result of constituency work and nothing else,” he continued.
“But his explanation has changed, and he now wants us to believe he had no idea how that bill came to be.” “If he had no concept how that bill was racked up, why on earth did he claim taxpayer money for it?”
“Michael Matheson is playing the public for a fool.” In numerous statements, he mislead the press and the people. If it was an honest error, why did he make so many false assertions about it?”