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Former Scottish Health Secretary receives record Holyrood ban over £11k iPad data bill


MSPs have handed former Scottish Health Secretary Michael Matheson a record ban from parliament for breaching Holyrood’s expenses policy.

Matheson, who racked up an £11,000 data bill for his parliamentary iPad while on holiday in Morocco, will be banned from Holyrood for 27 sitting days and will have his salary withdrawn for 54 days – roughly the equivalent of his data bill.

Matheson apologised and said he accepted parliament’s decision. The SNP did not vote for the sanction and called for a review of the complaints process, arguing it was open to bias and prejudice. The party also successfully amended the motion to include complaints about the process, before abstaining from voting on the final amended version.

The punishment, recommended by the standards committee, was passed in the chamber by 64 votes in favour, with no votes against.

Matheson quit the cabinet in February, and wass the subject of a separate, ultimately unsuccessful, Scottish Conservative motion calling on him to resign from Holyrood.

He will now be suspended for more than five weeks, exceeding previous record bans of one month.

The £10,941.74 bill was charged to his parliamentary device during a family holiday between December 2022 and January 2023. Matheson initially said it had been used for constituency work, but eventually admitted the data bill had been run up by his children using his work device to watch football.

The cost of the bill was initially picked up by the taxpayer before Mr Matheson agreed to pay it back from his own pocket.

The sanctions will come into force from today (Thursday) and see Matheson barred from all proceedings in the chamber and committees, but not from the parliamentary estate.

He will not be able to return to proceedings until early September after MSPs return from summer recess.

First Minister John Swinney, who described Matheson as a friend, said he accepted parliament’s decision and was glad the amended motion recognised “deep flaws” in the process.

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