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by Louise Wilson
23 May 2024
Michael Matheson faces 27-day suspension

Michael Matheson resigned as health secretary in February | Alamy

Michael Matheson faces 27-day suspension

Michael Matheson should be suspended for 27 days, a cross-party committee of MSPs has recommended.

It has also said Mathseon's salary should be withdrawn for 54 days.

The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments (SPPA) Committee has been considering a complaint made against the SNP MSP who claimed £11,000 for data roaming charges incurred while on a family holiday in Morocco.

An investigation by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) found Matheson had breached the MSP code of conduct.

Three complaints were upheld by the SPCB in relation to his use of the MSP expenses scheme, use of SPCB facilities and breaches of policies.

SPPA convener Martin Whitfield said Matheson had failed to maintain the standards expected of MSPs in being "open, honest and accountable in relation to the use of expenses".

He said: "Ultimately, the committee considers that the findings of the SPCB indicate a position in which the standards of conduct expected from Members of the Scottish Parliament have not been met. The unanimous view of the committee is that it is therefore appropriate to recommend sanctions for consideration by the parliament.

"The committee is also unanimous in its view that it is appropriate to recommend sanctions that include a financial element and a period of exclusion from proceedings of the parliament and its committees."

The committee unanimously backed the withdrawal of Matheson's salary for 54 calendar days.

However, it disagreed on the length of exclusion from proceedings. The 27-day proposal received the support of Tory MSPs Annie Wells and Oliver Mundell, while SNP MSPs Alasdair Allan and Jackie Dunbar disagreed.

The convener made the casting vote in favour of a 27 sitting day exclusion and therefore a majority of the committee backed this conclusion.

Speaking after the convener's statement, Allan said that while he felt an exclusion was appropriate, the length proposed was "extremely high".

Matheson resigned from government earlier this year, stating the issue had become a distraction.

While he later repaid the fees, having claimed he was unaware his sons had used a parliamentary iPad as a hotspot to watch a football game, questions about what he knew and when continued to plague the former health secretary.

He remained an SNP backbencher despite calls for then First Minister Humza Yousaf to suspend him.

The SPCB cannot sanction MSPs and therefore that decision went to the SPPA committee.

The suspension will be put to a vote to the whole parliament shortly.

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