23 May 2024

Ex-minister Michael Matheson suspended from Holyrood over iPad roaming bill row

23 May 2024

Former health secretary Michael Matheson has been suspended from the Scottish Parliament for 27 days and will lose his salary for 54 days after racking up a near-£11,000 data roaming bill.

Mr Matheson was found to have breached the MSP code of conduct by attempting to use expenses and office costs to cover the bill for a parliamentary iPad.

Later announcing he would cover the costs himself, Mr Matheson revealed the bill had been the result of his children using the device as a wifi hotspot to watch football during a holiday in Morocco.

The former minister initially denied there had been any inappropriate use of the device, when asked by journalists.

After months of pressure on him, Mr Matheson stood down as health secretary in February.

The SNP MSP’s punishment was handed down by the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee at Holyrood on Thursday. It will now be subject to a vote in the Parliament.

It will no doubt increase pressure on Mr Matheson to stand down as an MSP, given the Scottish Parliament has no way of removing elected members in the way the UK Parliament does.

South of the border, a suspension of 10 sitting days is enough to spark a recall petition, which allows constituents to remove an MP if 10% sign the document.

This was most recently used in Rutherglen and Hamilton West following the breach of Covid regulations by former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier and resulted in Labour taking the seat with a massive swing.

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