Scotland’s Health Secretary to pay back £11,000 iPad roaming charges bill

Michael Matheson’s bill was racked up during a week-long Christmas holiday to Morocco (Picture: PA)

Scotland’s Health Secretary Michael Matheson will reimburse the full cost of £11,000 data roaming charges racked up using a Parliamentary iPad.

Mr Matheson incurred a £10,935.74 bill on a week-long holiday to Morocco during Christmas last year.

He was met with criticism after initially only contributing £3,000 from his own expenses, with the rest met by the Scottish Parliament.

He said the bill was caused by a ‘an outdated SIM card in an iPad that I had for constituency purposes’.

The Scottish Parliament is to carry out a policy review that will consider if MSPs should be held ‘personally liable for costs where they have not acted in full accordance with IT office requirements’.

In a statement on Friday Mr Matheson said he had decided to meet the costs in full.

He said: ‘I have contacted the Scottish Parliament authorities this afternoon to make arrangements to reimburse the full cost of the £10,935.74 incurred in roaming charges on my parliament iPad.

‘While the Parliament agreed to pay the bulk of this sum as a legitimate expense, with the rest being met from my office allowance, I have reflected long and hard and accept that the SIM card on this device should have been replaced at an earlier stage.’

Mr Matheson will now pay the full bill (Picture: Getty Images)

Mr Matheson said he took his own reputation, and that of the Scottish Parliament, ‘extremely seriously’.

He continued: ‘It is my decision to reimburse these costs in full, which I believe in all the circumstances to be the right one.

‘As well as being a constituency MSP, I have an important role as Health Secretary and the coming months will be challenging for our health service.

‘I am determined to be fully focused on taking forward these responsibilities, and I assure the people of Falkirk West and across Scotland that their concerns are my priorities.’

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said: ‘Michael Matheson has belatedly been shamed into repaying a bill that he had the audacity to expect the taxpayer to foot.

‘His arrogance and contempt for the public purse was clear from his refusal to follow parliament guidelines and inform IT staff that he was travelling abroad.

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‘This is not the end of the matter.

‘Michael Matheson has to address the many serious unanswered questions over this scandal – having notably refused to do so when confronted by journalists on Thursday.’

He added: ‘We still need to hear a personal statement from the Health Secretary in Parliament and I call on him to publish the original roaming charges statement from the network provider.

‘This also calls into question the judgment of Humza Yousaf who, just 24 hours ago, claimed that this was a legitimate expenses claim and that his Health Secretary shouldn’t repay a penny.’

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: ‘As previously stated, Mr Matheson provided written assurance that the costs were in connection with parliamentary business.

‘Mr Matheson notified the Parliament this afternoon that he would, on reflection, meet the cost of his data charges.

‘The money will be returned to the Parliament’s budget.’

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