Euan McColm Euan McColm

Michael Matheson’s iPad scandal has tarnished the SNP

(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

When the Scottish health secretary’s inevitable resignation came, there was no apology, no recognition that he had done anything wrong. Michael Matheson quit with all the arrogance we’ve come to expect from SNP politicians, jumping ship on Thursday morning before the findings of an investigation into his expenses claims were published.

After it emerged last November that Matheson had claimed around £11,000 for roaming data charges run up during a family holiday in Morocco, the MSP insisted his expenses were entirely legitimate and had come about while he carried out essential constituency work. When that line refused to shut down questions about how he could have incurred such massive costs, Matheson offered the excuse that he had been using an outdated SIM card in his parliament-provided iPad. Eventually, despite telling the press that the charges hadn’t come about from personal iPad use, he made a tearful statement to the Scottish parliament in November, admitting that his teenage sons were to blame. They’d used his iPad to stream football matches during their trip last New Year.

Matheson then asked the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body — the cross-party Holyrood group that oversees parliamentary business — to investigate his handling of the matter. With publication of the findings of that probe imminent, Matheson finally fell on his sword. At 11.12am on Thursday morning, he tweeted a copy of his resignation letter. Its contents are remarkable.

Yousaf, of course, should have sacked Matheson as soon as it became clear that his expenses claim was false.

Matheson wrote of his many ‘achievements’ while in office before eventually recognising that the SPCB’s findings were soon to be published. It was best he go now, wrote Matheson, to ensure the matter did not ‘become a distraction’. Become? Seriously? Matheson’s utterly dishonest behaviour made this matter a distraction many weeks ago. Throughout every miserable stage of the saga, First Minister Humza Yousaf reiterated his confidence in Matheson, describing him as a man of honour and integrity.

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