SNP minister resigns in wake of scandal over iPad data roaming charges

Credit: PA

Michael Matheson has quit as Scotland’s health secretary, saying he was leaving the post so the row over his iPad roaming charges “does not become a distraction” to the government.

Mr Matheson had been under fire since November last year when details of an £11,000 bill on his Holyrood-issued iPad were made public.

In an emotional statement to MSPs, he revealed his teenage sons had been using the device as a hotspot so they could watch football while on a family holiday to Morocco.

The then-health secretary, however, had originally insisted the charges had been run up while he was using it for constituency work during the break.

When he learned of his children’s use of the device, Mr Matheson paid back the charges, which had originally been picked up by the Scottish Parliament.

With the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body conducting an investigation, Mr Matheson said he was “conscious that this process will conclude in the coming weeks”.

In a letter to First Minister Humza Yousaf, he said: “I have still not received the findings of their review, however, it is in the best interests of myself and the government for me now to step down to ensure that this does not become a distraction to taking forward the government’s agenda.”

Opponents repeatedly called for Mr Matheson to resign when the bill first emerged in November last year, pointing to his claim to journalists that there had been no personal use of the device, before telling MSPs days later his sons had used the data.

At the time, Mr Yousaf gave Mr Matheson his backing.

Mr Matheson added he had been “enormously grateful” for the support Mr Yousaf gave to him and his family over the last year.

He has held various roles in the Scottish cabinet for almost 13 years, including the justice, net zero and public health portfolios.

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