21 November 2023

‘No shortage’ of chances to scrutinise Matheson over data bill, says Brown

21 November 2023

There is “no shortage” of opportunities to scrutinise Health Secretary Michael Matheson at Holyrood, the SNP’s deputy leader has said.

Keith Brown defended the Health Secretary and said those who wish to know more about the circumstances of the £11,000 data roaming bill on his iPad should await a parliamentary investigation.

At the weekend, the Conservatives accused Mr Matheson of “hiding away” after the Health Secretary made an emotional statement to MSPs in which he revealed his teenage sons had racked up the costs by using the device to watch football while on a family holiday in Morocco.

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Brown said his SNP colleague is someone of “integrity and honesty” – something Humza Yousaf has also said.

He said: “There’s absolutely no shortage of opportunities for not just the Tories, any party, any individual MSP, to make inquiries of this through the proper channels in the Parliament.

“I think the wise thing to do is to wait until the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body has a look at this, and comes back to this with all the information that people may want.”

Mr Brown said he has full confidence in the Health Secretary, adding: “I’ve known Michael for a very long time, before he entered Parliament when he worked in the social work.

“It’s my view, and I’ve seen nothing to change this view, is that Michael is somebody of integrity and honesty.”

The Conservatives have threatened to bring forward a motion of no confidence in Mr Matheson, saying there are still unanswered questions around Mr Matheson’s actions.

The Health Secretary spoke to journalists on Monday, saying his earlier statement to Parliament had gone into “great detail”.

Asked directly if he had lied to the press, Mr Matheson stated: “I set out all the circumstances and explained the way in which I’d handled it in the course of my personal statement last week.”

However, he said he was now “focused on making sure I do my job as Health Secretary in supporting the health and social care system in Scotland” over the winter period.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox