SNP minister insists Michael Matheson saga only a 'political bubble' issue as John Swinney faces 'integrity' accusations

Mairi McAllan has called for a line to be drawn under the Michael Matheson expenses saga.

A senior SNP minister has called for the election campaign to “forget about” the Michael Matheson saga, insisting a line should be drawn under what she has described as a “political bubble issue”.

Mr Matheson was on Wednesday handed a 27-day suspension from Holyrood and will be docked 54 days of his salary after he tallied up almost £11,000 in data roaming charges for an iPad.

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SNP net zero secretary Mairi McAllan has called for an end to the debate over Mr Matheson’s conduct after her party refused to vote in favour of the punishment for her colleague. She has demanded an inquiry into the standards committee processes amid accusations of prejudice by a Tory MSP on the panel.

Former SNP health secretary Michael Matheson (Picture by Jane Barlow/PA Wire)Former SNP health secretary Michael Matheson (Picture by Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
Former SNP health secretary Michael Matheson (Picture by Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
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SNP MSP Michael Matheson suspended for record 27 days over iPad expenses saga

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross questioned why Mr Matheson had not been suspended by the SNP as he accused John Swinney of hypocrisy and a lack of integrity.

Speaking to The Scotsman, Ms McAllan said she was aware of accusations the Matheson issue was “hanging over the campaign”, but insisted “to me it hasn’t felt that way at all”.

Ms McAllan insisted the episode relating to Mr Matheson was not “having cut-through” with the public.

SNP Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan (Picture:Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)SNP Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan (Picture:Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)
SNP Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan (Picture:Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

She said: “Having said that, it’s clearly a political bubble issue and one which I think needs to be put to bed. The man has been handed down the most severe sanction in the history of the devolution era, harsher than for issues of sexual misconduct in the past. He has lost his job, there has been no cost to the public purse and no-one has been harmed.

“I think he now needs to be allowed to take the sanction that he’s been handed and we need to forget about this issue.”

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Mr Swinney said the issues “have been well exercised” and that he would “accept the conclusions” of MSPs. But the Conservatives hit out at the refusal of SNP MSPs to vote in favour of the sanctions, abstaining on the crunch vote.

Mr Ross said: “He refused to support any sanction at all for his friend Michael Matheson. That MSP has now been banned from Parliament for 27 days, but he’s not been suspended from the SNP by John Swinney.

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First Minister of Scotland John Swinney (Picture by Jane Barlow/PA Wire)First Minister of Scotland John Swinney (Picture by Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
First Minister of Scotland John Swinney (Picture by Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

“People across Scotland think Michael Matheson should have been sacked because they would have been in the same circumstances. It’s one rule for the SNP and another for everyone else in Scotland.”

The First Minister said his party did not vote for the sanctions because “the process was tainted”.

In response, the Tory leader said: “ How can John Swinney keep his own integrity if he backs a man who has none? John Swinney claimed he was a safe pair of hands, but even he must accept this shambles he has made of this scandal.”

Mr Ross highlighted Mr Swinney previously calling for former first minister and Labour leader Henry McLeish to resign over an expenses scandal.

He said: “When it doesn’t evolve someone in the SNP, John Swinney tries to talk like a man of integrity. He demands resignations, he speaks of trust. He preaches about honesty. But now it’s his SNP friend, he’s abandoned the principles he once had.”

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