Last week, following criticism for not footing the huge bill, Mr Matheson agreed to pay back £10,935.74 incurred in roaming charges during a family holiday in Morocco.
Initially, the minister was only going to pay £3,000 towards the cost from his expenses budget, with the Scottish Parliament agreeing to pay the rest. Mr Matheson, who has an annual salary of £118,511, confirmed on Friday that he would reimburse the full cost.
But Mr Matheson has declined to hand over the iPad to confirm he had used the device for work, as he has insisted, with Holyrood authorities stressing only the data use and not the browsing history has been examined.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has now called for Mr Matheson to ask Scottish Parliament IT experts to examine the device’s browser history, arguing it’s the only definitive means of proving his claim that the £11,000 roaming charge bill from his holiday in Morocco was solely accrued on parliamentary duties.
The health secretary told journalists yesterday that the parliamentary authorities had investigated the matter fully earlier this year.
But a statement from Holyrood yesterday confirmed that their probe was limited to confirming the extent of data usage and that they had received only “assurances” that the bill was racked up as a result of the minister working exclusively on parliamentary duties.
Mr Ross has warned that “suspicions will linger” over Mr Matheson’s claims unless and until he can prove them.
The Scottish Tory leader has warned that his party will table a no-confidence motion if the health secretary continues to reject calls to hand over his iPad and make a personal statement in the chamber.
Mr Ross said: “This scandal has dragged on for several days now and Michael Matheson is looking shiftier with each one that passes.
“He still has serious questions to answer, and suspicions will linger for as long as he fails to prove his claim that the enormous tab he expected taxpayers to foot was the product solely of parliamentary work.
“Despite his woolly words to journalists on Monday, it’s clear the Scottish Parliament officials have not examined the browser history of his iPad.
“That’s the only way Mr Matheson’s claims can be verified, so you’d think he’d be rushing to hand it over in order to prove that there was no personal usage.”
He added: “We need to get to the bottom of this saga once and for all, so the Scottish Conservatives are issuing the health secretary with an ultimatum: hand over the iPad, for the browsing history to be checked, and deliver a personal statement in parliament explaining the full circumstances or we’ll table a motion of no confidence.
“This is about the integrity of a senior SNP cabinet minister. Twice Michael Matheson has appeared before journalists, and twice he has failed to give coherent answers to key questions. He must do so now.”
Under Holyrood rules, a motion of no confidence can be held if is supported by 25 MSPs. But it is extremely unlikely Mr Matheson would lose such a vote, given the SNP and Greens hold a parliamentary majority.
Yesterday, Mr Matheson was asked if he would have over his iPad to allow parliament to investigate.
He replied: “They have, they have, they’ve investigated the issue back in January … they had all the data and everything from it. They’ve already had it.”
Asked if Holyrood officials had looked through his Ipad, Mr Matheson said: “They’ve had all that data – they had access to..”
Pressed over whether he had handed over the iPad, the Health Secretary replied: “No, they looked at the iPad, but they had access to all of the data that was on the iPad when they looked at the matter back in January.”
However, a Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “We can confirm a senior IT official examined Mr Matheson’s iPad in person at Holyrood to ensure it was functioning properly, which was duly established.
“The official reviewed the iPad’s mobile data settings and data use, but the device does not provide a breakdown of data over a specific time-frame.
“The official observed a cumulative total, which accrues over the lifetime of the device.”
Pressed further, the spokesperson told the Telegraph: “We did not look at the browsing history. This would not have showed data volumes consumed.
“We were primarily looking at volume of mobile data consumed as we had assurances it was for parliamentary purposes.”