15 March 2024

Yousaf urged to remove SNP whip from Matheson after iPad expenses report

15 March 2024

The Scottish Conservatives have urged the First Minister to remove the whip from Michael Matheson after he was found to have breached parliamentary rules.

The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) – the cross-party group of MSPs tasked with the running of Parliament – said Mr Matheson broke the code of conduct for members in his handling of the near-£11,000 data roaming bill he racked up on his parliamentary iPad during a family holiday in Morocco.

Mr Matheson initially had the bill paid through a combination of his MSP expenses and offices costs, but he later resolved to pay it himself after pressure from opposition politicians and the public.

The former health secretary – who quit the Cabinet last month as he said he feared the issue had become a “distraction” – said in an emotional statement in Holyrood in November that his sons had used his device as a hotspot to watch football.

The issue has now been referred to Holyrood’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, which will consider potential sanctions.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has written to First Minister Humza Yousaf, urging him to kick Mr Matheson out of the SNP group at Holyrood, referring to two examples of current MSPs.

Mr Ross wrote: “While you have defended your close friend and colleague throughout this scandal, it is clear to many that Michael Matheson should not continue to have your support through maintaining the SNP whip at Holyrood.

“You decided to punish Fergus Ewing by removing the SNP whip from him after he voted for a Scottish Conservative motion of no confidence in the Green minister Lorna Slater.

“Further, the SNP have previously suspended the whip from Michelle Thomson after it was announced she was being investigated for ‘alleged irregularities’ relating to property transactions – and this suspension was announced before the conclusion of this investigation.

“I would suggest that lying to the public about trying to claim £11,000 from the public purse is significantly more serious than voting against a disastrous Green minister, so the only correct course of action is to remove the SNP whip from Michael Matheson immediately.”

The SPCB probe, published on Thursday, found he had breached clauses of the MSP code of conduct which say members must “abide by the policies” of the SPCB and that “no improper use should be made of any payment or allowance made to members for public purposes”.

The SNP has been approached for comment.

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