Humza Yousaf urged to remove SNP whip from Michael Matheson

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the First Minister should ‘belatedly show firm leadership’

Humza Yousaf has been urged to remove the SNP whip from Michael Matheson in the wake of a damning report into his £11,000 iPad bill.

An investigation by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) found Mr Matheson, the former health secretary, breached two parts of the MSP code of conduct. Mr Matheson stepped down from his Cabinet post last month, citing the ongoing parliamentary investigation into the bill as the reason.

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The SPCB published its findings on Thursday, but said its full report would be released after consideration by Holyrood’s standards committee.

Humza Yousaf and Michael Matheson. Picture: PAHumza Yousaf and Michael Matheson. Picture: PA
Humza Yousaf and Michael Matheson. Picture: PA

Mr Matheson, who has been an MSP since 1999, could ultimately face being suspended from the Scottish Parliament.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said Mr Yousaf should “belatedly show firm leadership” and suspend the party whip.

In a letter to the First Minister, Mr Ross said: “[Mr Matheson] must do the decent thing and resign as an MSP, but so far he shows no sign of doing this. 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.”

Mr Matheson was found to have 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”.

Initially, he had used his MSP expenses and office costs to cover the iPad data roaming bill, but he agreed to reimburse it after finding out his teenage sons had used the device to stream football during a family holiday in Morocco. However, Mr Matheson continued to mislead journalists even after finding out the truth.

Mr Ross said: “The findings of the parliamentary inquiry are utterly damning and it’s clear that Michael Matheson’s position as an MSP is untenable. Humza Yousaf inexplicably stood by his friend – absurdly calling him a man of integrity – when it was clear to everyone that the disgraced former health secretary had repeatedly lied during this scandal.

“Having displayed appalling judgment throughout this saga, he must belatedly show some leadership by removing the SNP whip from Michael Matheson, while the standards investigation is ongoing. If Matheson had any decency he would resign as an MSP.”

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Mr Ross pointed to the treatment of rebel SNP backbencher Fergus Ewing, who was suspended after backing a no-confidence vote in Green minister Lorna Slater.

The Tory leader said: “Humza Yousaf was happy to suspend Fergus Ewing just for acknowledging that Scottish Green minister Lorna Slater isn’t up to the job. So there is no excuse for him not to punish someone who has been found guilty of multiple breaches of the MSP code of conduct.”

An SNP spokesman said: "Whipping issues are an internal parliamentary group matter. While the standards committee process is ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment."



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