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Michael Matheson threatened with no-confidence vote over iPad bill

The £10,935.74 bill was originally paid by the Scottish Parliament | Alamy

Michael Matheson threatened with no-confidence vote over iPad bill

Michael Matheson has been threatened with a no-confidence vote if he refuses to clarify how he managed to rack up an £11,000 bill for using an iPad abroad. 

The Scottish Conservatives have called on the health secretary to allow Scottish Parliament IT experts to examine the browsing history on the device to prove it was solely used for parliamentary purposes. 

Matheson incurred extensive data roaming charges after taking the iPad on a family holiday to Morocco last December. 

He has since confirmed he will reimburse the parliament for the bill, as the fee was caused by his failure to replace an outdate SIM card. 

Parliament officials had initially agreed to foot the bill after receiving assurance from Matheson that the device had only been used for work-related duties. 

But Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has said Matheson must “prove that there was no personal usage” by allowing the IT department to investigate. 

Ross said: “We need to get to the bottom of this saga once and for all, so the Scottish Conservatives are issuing the health secretary with an ultimatum: hand over the iPad, for the browsing history to be checked, and deliver a personal statement in parliament explaining the full circumstances or we’ll table a motion of no confidence. 

“This is about the integrity of a senior SNP cabinet minister. Twice Michael Matheson has appeared before journalists, and twice he has failed to give coherent answers to key questions. He must do so now.” 

A motion of no confidence requires the support of 25 MSPs to be put forward for a vote. The Scottish Conservatives group comprises 31 MSPs. 

Responding to questions from the press yesterday, Matheson said a parliament investigation had been conducted in January which concluded it was a “legitimate expense”. 

While an IT expert did examine the device, that did not involve a detailed investigation into how the device had been used. A parliament spokesperson said: “We did not look at the browsing history. This would not have showed data volumes consumed. We were primarily looking at volume of mobile data consumed as we had assurances it was for parliamentary purposes.” 

In a separate development, Police Scotland confirmed it had received a complaint about the matter from a member of the public but said no further action would be taken at this time.

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