SNP MSP Michael Matheson suspended for record 27 days over iPad expenses saga

Michael Matheson will be suspended for 27 days after MSPs voted in favour of punishing the SNP MSP over the iPad data scandal

Michael Matheson will be suspended for 27 days for his iPad data roaming saga after MSPs voted to back the punishment a Holyrood committee recommended he receive for racking up £11,000.

MSPs voted in favour of stripping Mr Matheson of his salary for 54 calendar days and to suspend him for 27 sitting days.

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Mr Matheson has apologised, but insisted he looks forward to “continuing to represent the people of Falkirk West, as I have done for many years”.

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)

The suspension takes effect from Thursday, after 64 MSPs voted to back the recommendations of the Standards Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, while none voted against and 63 abstained.

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An SNP amendment which criticised Tory member of the committee Annie Wells for comments she made about Mr Matheson before she voted on the issue was passed by 68 votes to 56 with two abstentions. The amendment also called for an “independent review” of the complaints process in Holyrood.

SNP Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes told MSPs that "breaches like this should be proportionately sanctioned” as her party opposed the punishment being handed down to Mr Matheson.

Michael Matheson (left) (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Michael Matheson (left) (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Michael Matheson (left) (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

She added: “Michael Matheson has paid back the roaming costs and there’s been no cost to the public purse.

“His actions have had consequences – he has lost his Cabinet position despite being one of the longest serving ministers of this Parliament.

“He’s faced considerable reputational damage and significant intrusion in his personal life.”

But the Scottish Conservatives, who have also called for the former health secretary to quit as an MSP, accused Mr Matheson of a “deliberate and shameless attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of this Parliament”.

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Scottish Conservative Party leader Douglas Ross believes Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson should be sacked. Pic: Michael GillenScottish Conservative Party leader Douglas Ross believes Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson should be sacked. Pic: Michael Gillen
Scottish Conservative Party leader Douglas Ross believes Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson should be sacked. Pic: Michael Gillen

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross added: “This is not a harmless mistake that some have attempted to present.

“This was a deliberate and shameless attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of this Parliament and the public. It is an open and shut case.”

The decision came amid accusations from the SNP that Ms Wells had prejudiced the process by commenting on the case before the committee of which she is a member, had finalised its conclusion. The committee convener, Martin Whitfield, told Holyrood the panel will “reflect generally” on the process, but added: “These reflections do not evidence any concern we have that the process followed up to this point was not adequate or correct.”

The row surrounds Ms Wells, who made comments about Mr Matheson’s conduct despite being a member of the committee that investigated his behaviour and helped determine the proposed punishment.

SNP First Minister John Swinney has claimed the whole process needs reviewed. But the Scottish Conservative leader accused the FM of “bully boy” tactics that would “make Donald Trump blush”.

Mr Ross added: “It is disgusting and disgraceful behaviour that demeans the office of First Minister because he has targeted members of an independent committee in this Parliament and is attempting to undermine due process with his bully boy tactics.”

In a statement, Mr Matheson said: “I apologise and regret that this situation occurred. I acknowledge and accept the decision of parliament.

“I also note that parliament has called for the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body to carry out an independent review of the parliament’s complaints process to restore integrity and confidence in the Parliament and its procedures, which I hope will be progressed.

“I look forward to continuing to represent the people of Falkirk West, as I have done for many years.”

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