Michael Matheson should stay as health secretary, says Angus Robertson
Angus Robertson has backed Michael Matheson to remain in place as health secretary.
It follows a row over Matheson racking up an £11,000 bill for data roaming charges while in Morocco, which he yesterday admitted was a result of his son watching football.
Matheson had previously insisted an iPad he took on the holiday had been used solely for constituency and parliamentary purposes.
Asked about the matter today, Robertson said: “I want him to continue working as Scotland's health secretary.
“I want the inquiry that he himself has initiated with the parliamentary authorities to be able to get on with their job. I've known Michael Matheson for decades. He's a proper person, he's a capable person.”
Matheson has referred himself to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body for further investigation under the MSP Code of Conduct.
The Scottish Parliament initially paid for the charges after receiving assurances from Matheson that he had used it for his parliamentary duties.
The health secretary told parliament yesterday that he had been unaware of his son’s use of the device’s data to watch football until the end of last week, after which he agreed to reimburse the parliament for the sum.
Robertson added: “I listened very closely to the statement that Michael Matheson gave in the Scottish Parliament, and I think any fair-minded person appreciates the circumstances he outlined.
“I think it's also the right thing for him to have done to have referred himself to the parliamentary authorities, who will be looking at those circumstances, and it is not for me to second guess that.
“What I do know is, I have known Michael Matheson for a long time. I've known him for a number of decades. He's a proper person, I think he's a very competent person, and I know he's been working very hard in relation to the National Health Service and I hope he continues to do so for a long time.”
Robertson’s comments came as the Tories demanded First Minister Humza Yousaf answer “key questions” over Matheson’s roaming bill.
Douglas Ross said the first minister “owes the public an explanation and apology”, after Yousaf expressed his full confidence in the health secretary.
Ross has written to the first minister in light of the recent revelations. In the letter, the Tory leader outlines six questions that he says must be answered about the actions of Yousaf during the scandal and what he knew. He also plans to table a motion of no confidence in Matheson.
Ross said: “Firstly, he [Yousaf] owes the public an explanation and apology for giving his unequivocal backing to a minister he knew had knowingly lied to the country when he claimed that the iPad had only been used for work purposes.
“On Wednesday, the first minister was still parroting the line that this was an honest mistake related to an old SIM card, when he knew the truth. We also need to know when the first minister first learned of Michael Matheson’s expenses claim.
“The fact is the health secretary has lied and covered up throughout this scandal and the first minister appears to have aided and abetted him.”