• Thu. May 30th, 2024

Yousaf backs Health Secretary Michael Matheson amid iPad scandal

ByMaryse Bots

Nov 24, 2023
A man in a shirt holds an ipad with graphs on it

First Minister Humza Yousaf has declared that he does not believe he was misled by Health Secretary Michael Matheson amid an £11,000 data roaming controversy.

On Thursday 16 November Matheson admitted that his sons had racked up £11,000 of data roaming charges watching football on a family holiday in Morocco using his work iPad as a data hotspot.

According to figures released by Holyrood, 3.8Gb had been used on January 2nd – charging £8,666 – which coincided with a Rangers v Celtics game.

At first he denied the claims, stating the iPad was only used for work purposes and that he would only foot £3000 of the bill. 

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This caused controversy as it meant the Scottish government – funded by the taxpayer – would pick up the remaining £8000. 

He then continuously denied accusations that the iPad was used for personal use, after repeated questions from journalists. 

Nonetheless he decided to reimburse the government for the full cost, to avoid questions concerning the use of the iPad.

However days later he made a tearful apology to parliament, admitting the iPad was used by his sons and not for the previously stated constituency work:

“I am a father first and foremost. I can see now that it just [isn’t] possible to explain the data usage without explaining their role. Presiding Officer, the simple truth is they were watching football matches.”

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It was also reported that Matheson ignored instructions from officials to update his SIM card, had not updated his iPad settings and had failed to report that he was taking the device overseas.

The government has announced that he has already reimbursed the amount and has referred himself for further investigation to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body – a body with no investigative power.

This has led to Labour and Conservative MSPs calling for his resignation, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar repeating his call:

“This is not about the data, it’s not about his family – this is about him misleading the public. That is why I think he should resign.” 

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The Conservatives have also indicated to push for a vote of no confidence, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross arguing:

“[Mr Matheson] simply cannot continue as Health Secretary and the longer he does, the more his position in government becomes a distraction for Humza Yousaf and the SNP.”

While Yousaf told BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House that the health secretary could have handled the situation better, he added that:

“He was trying to protect his children. For me, Michael – who I have known for well over 15 years – is a man of integrity.”

Image: “Man using iPad” by olueletu is marked with CC0 1.0.