Sack Michael Matheson, urges Douglas Ross
Douglas Ross has urged First Minister Humza Yousaf to sack Michael Matheson as health secretary over a row about an £11,000 bill.
The Scottish Tory leader raised the matter during First Minister’s Questions, accusing the health secretary of being “dishonest” after claiming the bill was for parliamentary purposes.
Humza Yousaf stood by Matheson, saying it was an “honest mistake”.
Matheson is set to make a personal statement on the matter to the parliament on Thursday afternoon.
The £11,000 bill was incurred while on a family holiday to Morocco at the end of last year.
The high charges have been attributed to the use of an iPad containing an old SIM card. The parliament originally paid for the bill after receiving assurance from Matheson that it was to carry out his parliamentary duties.
Matheson agreed to reimburse the parliament for the money at the end of last week, acknowledging the SIM should have been replaced. However, questions continue to be raised about how the iPad was used due to the significant volume of data.
Ross said: “It matters if there was an intent to dupe taxpayers out of £11,000. For nearly a year, Michael Matheson was happy for the taxpayer to pick up this bill.
“He made no attempt to repay it until he was caught. His story is farcical beyond belief.
“So I‘m going to repeat my question to the first minister: can he guarantee that Michael Matheson ran up all of these costs on parliamentary business?”
Yousaf said Matheson was “a man of honesty and integrity” but refused to comment further. He said he had “no intention of preempting” the statement later today.
The first minister added: “Michael has agreed to pay back the full amount. He has admitted to an honest mistake that has been made. He will elaborate on that and reflect on that.”
Speaking to members of the media following FMQs, Yousaf was asked if he thought Matheson had knowingly misled parliament. The first minister said: "No, I don't believe he has."