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Michael Matheson: Scottish health secretary quits over £11k iPad billPublished36 minutes agoShareclose panelShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesImage caption, Michael Matheson said he did not want the parliamentary investigation to become a “distraction”By Angus CochraneBBC Scotland NewsScotland’s health secretary Michael Matheson has resigned ahead of a report into an £11,000 bill that was racked up on his parliamentary iPad.Mr Matheson said he was standing down because he did not want the row over the bill to become a distraction. The iPad charges, initially paid out of the public purse, were incurred during a family trip to Morocco in late 2022.When details of the bill were first made public, he said the device had only been used for parliamentary work. But he subsequently admitted that his sons had used the iPad as a data hotspot so they could watch football.He has since paid back the bill in full and apologised.His resignation comes ahead of the publication of an investigation into the incident by the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body – which has been examining whether Mr Matheson made an improper expenses claim.Follow live reaction to Michael Matheson’s resignationWho is Michael Matheson?Key dates in the Michael Matheson iPad scandalIn his resignation letter to First Minister Humza Yousaf, Mr Matheson said he had still not received the corporate body’s report.He added: “However, it is in the best interest of myself and the government for me to now step down to ensure this does not become a distraction to taking forward the government’s agenda.”When news of the iPad bill first emerged in November, Mr Yousaf initially described it as a “legitimate” expense. After Mr Matheson admitted his sons had been involved, the first minister resisted calls to sack him and denied he had been misled by the health secretary. Mr Yousaf accepted the resignation with “sadness”. He said: “It is right that, having requested that the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body review your data roaming charges from last year, that you fully engage with that process as it comes to its conclusion.”I agree that it is therefore best for you to now step down to ensure you are able to give the parliamentary process the attention it deserves without it becoming a distraction to taking forward the government’s agenda.”Responding to questions from journalists in the Scottish Parliament on why he did not sack Mr Matheson months ago, the first minister said: “I’ve got a reshuffle to get on with.” A new health secretary is expected to be announced on Thursday afternoon. Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, First Minister Humza Yousaf stood by Michael MathesonMr Matheson, who has served in government for more than 12 years, had been due to give a statement to parliament on Thursday afternoon about changes to minimum unit pricing for alcoholic drinks. His junior minister, Elena Whitham, also resigned this week, citing health issues. The Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) – which is in charge of Holyrood’s finances – is investigating whether an improper claim was made by Mr Matheson on parliamentary resources and whether he failed to follow parliament policies.It said it would give the minister two weeks to review its draft conclusions.The SPCB could refer Mr Matheson to the parliament’s standards committee. It could also recommend the removal of Mr Matheson’s entitlement to reimbursement of expenses.The body said it would not comment further on the matter while it was being investigated.Ministers are entitled to three months of their final ministerial salary as a severance payment 90 days after leaving their post. Mr Matheson’s final ministerial salary was £50,849, meaning he could be handed a £12,712 severance payment.Cabinet secretaries, who have declined to accept their full salary entitlement since 2009, are entitled to an overall pay packet of £118,511 but receive £96,999.What has Michael Matheson said about the iPad bill?In November, it was revealed that a £10,935.74 bill had been charged to Mr Matheson’s iPad following a holiday to Morocco with his wife and two sons.He agreed with parliament in March that he would pay £3,000 from his own office expenses, with the rest to be paid by parliament.Parliament said he had given an assurance that the device had only been used for constituency business.When the story was first reported, Mr Matheson blamed an out-of-date Sim card and agreed to pay the money back.In a statement to parliament two weeks later, he admitted the iPad had been used as a hotspot by his sons so they could watch football.Resisting calls to resign, Mr Matheson admitted that the issue “could have been dealt with better” but said his initial denial that anyone else had used the device was a “genuine attempt” to try to shield his family.Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said Michael Matheson should have been sacked by the first ministerThe health secretary’s resignation came just half an hour before Mr Yousaf faced opposition leaders at First Minister’s Questions, with Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross saying Mr Matheson had made a “false claim for thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money”.”He has resigned but Humza Yousaf should have sacked him the minute it became clear Michael Matheson had not told the truth,” Mr Ross told MSPs.He added: “Humza Yousaf’s own reputation is in tatters over this scandal. He looks weak.”Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “The health secretary has finally resigned. “That will make the headlines today, but the crisis in our NHS has been 17 years in the making.”Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “From Humza Yousaf to Michael Matheson, our NHS has known only crisis, soaring vacancies and even longer waits.”Humza Yousaf has just lost one of his most experienced, capable and loyal ministers. That is a setback to him and the Scottish government. That Michael Matheson would have to resign at some point, having deliberately concealed the truth behind his massive iPad bill, has long seemed likely. If anything, the surprise has been how long the minister has been able to continue in office, with his boss’s backing. Officially, they have been waiting for the “due process” of an investigation by the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body. Its report has yet to be published and Mr Matheson claims in his resignation letter not to have seen the findings but decided to quit anyway to avoid it distracting from government business.His letter also notes that the NHS requires “major reform” to remain sustainable. That is a massive item of government business that will now be for Mr Matheson’s successor to address. Related TopicsMichael MathesonMore on this storyKey dates in the Michael Matheson iPad scandalPublished3 hours agoWho is iPad row minister Michael Matheson?Published3 hours agoParliament to investigate £11,000 iPad billPublished23 November 2023

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