Scottish minister Michael Matheson racked up £11k roaming bill using parliament iPad on holiday in Morocco

Michael Matheson is under fire after it was revealed taxpayers’ would cover the £11,000 roaming costs

A Scottish minister is under fire after racking up a £11,000 roaming charges bill while using his parliament iPad on holiday in Morocco.

Health secretary Michael Matheson has agreed to pay £3,000 towards the bill from his expenses budget, but the remainder will be paid for by the Scottish Parliament from its own budget.

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The senior minister, who has previously held the transport, justice and net zero briefs in Cabinet, has claimed the iPad was being used for constituency work when the roaming charges were accrued.

Minister Michael Matheson is under fire for his use of the iPad while on holiday. Picture: PAMinister Michael Matheson is under fire for his use of the iPad while on holiday. Picture: PA
Minister Michael Matheson is under fire for his use of the iPad while on holiday. Picture: PA

The bill, first reported by The Telegraph, was reportedly racked up during a week-long visit by Mr Matheson to Morocco with his family around Christmas last year.

Parliament officials confirmed they had tried to contest the charges, which totalled £10,935.74.

However, the company declined to waive the costs.

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: "As the member was still using the parliament's previous mobile provider, and hadn't yet switched to our present contract, he incurred significant data fees over and above its 'rest of the world' tariff rate.

"The parliament challenged the company over the scale of the data fees and over the late warning to the rising cost, but the company declined to meet or waive any of the charges.

"On the basis that the member has assured the parliament that these costs were incurred in relation to parliamentary business and not for personal or government use, we agreed that Mr Matheson would contribute £3,000 from his office cost provision and the remainder would be paid centrally by the parliament."

Roaming charges refers to the higher prices that mobile networks typically charge for using a phone, tablet or other mobile device overseas.

A spokesperson for Mr Matheson told The Telegraph the minister was not aware of a "problem with his device at the time, which has since been resolved".

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Scottish Labour deputy leader, Dame Jackie Baillie, described the situation as "mind-boggling".

She said: "What on earth could Mr Matheson have been doing to justify the public coughing up for this? The SNP is on a different planet when it comes to wasting taxpayers' cash.

"The Scottish public should not have to pick up this eye-watering bill for Michael Matheson."

Scottish Conservatives chairman Craig Hoy has urged Mr Matheson to pay for the remaining bill not covered by his expenses – about £7,900 – from his own pocket.

He said: "It's absolutely scandalous that taxpayers are picking up an enormous tab for Michael Matheson's mistake.

Mr Hoy said: "Even if we are to believe that he racked up this bill doing parliamentary and constituency work on a festive holiday in Morocco, the onus was on him to connect to the wi-fi where he was staying or check with the network provider to avoid brutal roaming charges.”



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