Michael Matheson rejects calls to resign as MSP as he returns to Holyrood

The former minister refused to answer multiple questions from journalists in the Scottish Parliament

Michael Matheson has rejected calls to resign as an MSP after he was found to have breached parliamentary rules.

The former health secretary faced questions from journalists after he returned to the Scottish Parliament for the first time in more than six weeks.

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Mr Matheson quit his Cabinet role in February following months of pressure over a near-£11,000 data roaming bill racked up on his parliamentary iPad during a family holiday to Morocco.

Michael Matheson returns to the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty ImagesMichael Matheson returns to the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Michael Matheson returns to the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
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Michael Matheson breached two sections of MSP code of conduct over £11k iPad bil...

The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) – the cross-party group of MSPs tasked with the running of Parliament – recently concluded Mr Matheson had broken the code of conduct for members over his handling of the bill, and referred his case to Holyrood’s standards committee to consider sanctions.

Asked if he is going to resign as an MSP, Mr Matheson told journalists: “No, and as you know there is a standards process at the present moment and I’m going to respect the confidentiality of that process, and I look forward to the process being completed shortly.”

Mr Matheson made the comments upon leaving an SNP group meeting at Holyrood on Wednesday.

He ignored questions about why he had been missing from parliament in recent weeks.

Last week, the Tories demanded answers after Mr Matheson attended a constituency event just a day after it was claimed he was “unwell and unable to work”.

Humza Yousaf, the First Minister, previously described his ex-minister as a “decent person”.

Speaking to the BBC, he said: “Michael made a mistake, there’s no ifs, buts or maybes about that – and decent people can make mistakes.

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“He’s paid a price for that, literally, he’s paid back all of the money and he’ll obviously now be referred to the parliament standards committee to make a judgment, and I won’t interfere in that process.”

Asked if the former minister should quit, the First Minister said: “No, I don’t think that’s the case. He’s a decent person that made a mistake. There are MSPs that have made mistakes and they’ve had to face the consequences of those mistakes.”

Opposition politicians have repeatedly called on Mr Matheson, who has been in Holyrood since 1999, to stand down. The Tories have also urged Mr Yousaf to remove the whip from the Falkirk West MSP.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “As he has done throughout this scandal, Michael Matheson smirked as he avoided answering key questions over the lies he told and his attempts to get the taxpayer to foot the bill for his data charges.

“It’s telling that, despite weeks of evading scrutiny, the only question he chose to answer was the one confirming that he won’t do the decent thing and resign as an MSP. Throughout this whole sorry saga, self-interest and self-preservation have been his guiding principles. Nothing changes.

“Michael Matheson only found himself being doorstepped by journalists, after an SNP group meeting, because Humza Yousaf lacks the backbone to remove the party whip from his disgraced colleague.”



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