The Holyrood authorities said Mr Matheson had provided a written assurance when he claimed expenses for the huge bill that the iPad had been used for parliamentary business and not for personal or government purposes.

READ MORE:  Matheson promises to pay £11,000 iPad charges from own pocket

Initially it was agreed £3000 would come out of his office expenses while the rest of the bill would be paid by parliament. Both payments came out of the public purse.

In his statement on Friday evening Mr Matheson said that on reflection “the SIM card on this device should have been replaced at an earlier stage” and he agreed to reimburse the costs.

“While the Parliament agreed to pay the bulk of this sum as a legitimate expense, with the rest being met from my office allowance, I have reflected long and hard and accept that the SIM card on this device should have been replaced at an earlier stage.

“Much of the speculation in the past couple of days has questioned my integrity, and I take this extremely seriously. I take equally seriously the reputation of the Scottish Parliament, of which I have always striven to be a diligent member since its restoration in 1999.

“It is my decision to reimburse these costs in full, which I believe in all the circumstances to be the right one.”

READ MORE: Matheson’s failure to apologise does neither himself nor SNP any favours

Political opponents have called for a full investigation by parliament into the matter and Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy has today urged Mr Matheson to hand over the device to the Holyrood authorities to check that the device was used for proper purposes.

“Michael Matheson told us his integrity matters – if so, he should hand over his iPad so that parliament IT staff can check the browser usage and the volume of email traffic to independently verify his assurance that he only incurred roaming charges related to parliamentary and constituency business during his Moroccan holiday,” Mr Hoy told The Herald.

Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Conservative MSP, said Mr Matheson was deluded if he thought paying the bill was the end of the matter.

“We need a full investigation,” he said. “If, as he asserts, this was only on parliamentary business then he has merely been foolish. If, however, it turns out that he has made a false claim then he may be guilty of a fraud on the taxpayer.”

READ MORE: Demand for probe into minister’s £11,000 holiday iPad bill

Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, said that not allowing the authorities to verify Mr Matheson’s claim would be “unacceptable”.

“He has been content for Scottish taxpayers to pick up this bill for months, and only changed his position when the shocking details became public,” Mr Ross said.

“Parliament ultimately authorised this claim because Michael Matheson gave assurances that all the data used was for constituency and parliamentary business. If he was telling the truth, he will have nothing to hide.”

Dame Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, said the minister had much more explaining to do. “It has been ten months since this incident took place, this was his responsibility and his alone, yet he tried to make the taxpayer pay,” she said.

“We must have a full and frank explanation about how on earth he could have run up a bill of £11,000 in a week … Until then, this simply will not go away.”

Mr Matheson, the MSP for Falkirk West, ran up the bill on his parliamentary iPad, which had not been switched over from EE to Vodaphone when Holyrood changed its provider.

The parliamentary authorities found that Mr Matheson had failed to change his iPad’s Sim card as required, or to notify Holyrood’s IT office before travelling so that the appropriate roaming package could be applied.

First Minister Humza Yousaf was drawn into the row last Thursday by insisting the authorities had declared the bill a “legitimate parliamentary expense”.

The £11,000 bill is more than the total of all MSPs’ mobile phone, business line, tablet and staff phone bill expenses claimed in 2022/23 combined. The total for all phone-related expenses last year was £9,507.

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “The circumstances of Mr Matheson’s data charges were investigated by a senior member of the Parliament’s IT office in January this year.  This included a review of the data volume consumed, the daily pricing charges and the company’s application of tariffs.

“The investigation also confirmed that Mr Matheson had not updated his i-pad’s sim card to the new provider as required, or notified the IT office before travelling, so that the appropriate roaming package could be applied. 

“At the conclusion of the investigation senior officials accepted Mr Matheson’s assurances that all costs incurred were for parliamentary purposes. 

“The Presiding  Officer will respond to the Member shortly.”

An SNP spokesman said: “As the parliament has already stated the issue was fully investigated by a senior member of staff earlier in the year and it was on that basis that the payment was authorised.”


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