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by Louise Wilson
22 November 2023
Tories call for debate on Michael Matheson row as parliament confirms ‘no mechanism’ for self-referral

Alamy

Tories call for debate on Michael Matheson row as parliament confirms ‘no mechanism’ for self-referral

The Scottish Conservatives have called for a debate into the Michael Matheson row to address “unanswered questions” after the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) confirmed there was no mechanism for self-referral for investigation.

In a statement to parliament last week, the health secretary revealed an £11,000 bill for data roaming charges had been run up after his son watched football while the family were on holiday in Morocco.

Matheson said he would refer himself to the SPCB for investigation under the MSP Code of Conduct.

But in a statement yesterday, the Scottish Parliament said it was not possible for Matheson to refer himself in this way.

A spokesperson said: “The issues involved encompass a number of SPCB policies so it is important that the SPCB takes time to carefully consider these and agree the scope of any investigation it may decide to undertake, and the process to be followed, into this matter including the use of £11,000 of public money.

“The SPCB takes seriously its responsibility to ensure the integrity of parliament’s operations and acknowledges Mr Matheson’s intention to co-operate fully with any investigation.

“The SPCB will meet again on Thursday and will issue a further statement at that point.”

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross urged the parliament to investigate why the £11,000 bill was initially paid from the central budget when it had not been clear how the cost was incurred.

Parliament had been assured by Matheson that the device had only been used for parliamentary duties. The MSP said he only became aware of his son’s use of data two weeks ago, after which he agreed to pay the parliament back in full.

On the SPCB’s statement about the referral, Ross said:  “This tactic was clearly a ruse by Michael Matheson to take the sting out of the scandal – but it hasn't worked.

“As with everything else in this sorry saga, he has got this hopelessly wrong.”

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