Menu
Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe

Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine

Subscribe

Subscribe to Holyrood
by Ruaraidh Gilmour
15 November 2023
FOI reveals Michael Matheson spent £7,000 in one day on mobile data

After initially agreeing to pay £3,000 towards the bill from his expenses budget, the health secretary confirmed last week he would pay the £11,000 bill personally | Alamy

FOI reveals Michael Matheson spent £7,000 in one day on mobile data

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that Michael Matheson racked up £7,000 of data roaming charges in just one day.

The health secretary, who accrued the bill on holiday in Morocco between late December and early January after failing to replace an old sim card, has come under heavy fire from opposition MSPs since the £11,000 bill was uncovered this month.

In the bill from network provider EE, it shows that Matheson’s parliamentary iPad used just over 6GB of data between 28 December and 3 January. The minister's biggest outlay of data occurred on 2 January, having used 3.18GB at a cost of £7,345.68.  

According to Netflix, streaming on its platform for one hour in standard definition will use 1GB, or 3GB if in high definition.  

After initially agreeing to pay £3,000 towards the bill from his expenses budget, the health secretary confirmed last week he would pay the £11,000 bill personally.

The Scottish Conservatives have threatened to call a vote of no confidence in the minister if he does not hand in the iPad to parliamentary authorities. But Matheson has insisted the matter has already been fully investigated by parliamentary authorities.

Instructed by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB), the Scottish Parliament has launched an urgent review into mobile devices and data roaming charges.

It will include options on disabling sim cards, a mandatory opt-in to data roaming bundles and personal liability for MSPs where parliament's procedures have not been followed.

Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone said: "We must be in a position where we have reviewed and tightened all policies to ensure the present situation cannot happen again."

She added: "The SPCB recognises that members are the elected representatives of their constituents and privacy and confidentiality is fundamental to that relationship."

Earlier this month, First Minister Humza Yousaf said: “He has made an honest mistake in relation to the sim card and the sim card not being updated when it should have been done.

“As far as I am concerned that is the end of the matter.”

Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Ruaraidh Gilmour - Scotland's circular economy: What goes around comes around.

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Subscribe

Popular reads
Back to top