Matheson’s position ‘untenable’ after iPad data revelation, says Gallacher

Health Secretary Michael Matheson’s position is “untenable” following the revelations about his iPad use, the Scottish Conservatives’ deputy leader has said.

Meghan Gallacher said the SNP minister had “admitted lying to the public and press” after saying his teenage sons used his Holyrood-issued iPad to watch football matches while on holiday in Morocco – resulting in data roaming charges bill of almost £11,000 for the device.

He had initially insisted the device had been used for parliamentary work during the trip.

Mr Matheson made a personal statement to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday amid growing demands for him to explain the data use.

He apologised and said he had not mentioned his family’s involvement earlier because he was a “father first and foremost” and had wanted to “protect” his children from “the political and media scrutiny”.

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Friday, Ms Gallacher said Mr Matheson’s story had “changed significantly”.

The Scottish Conservatives deputy leader said he had replied “no” when asked on Monday if there had been any personal use of the iPad.

Ms Gallacher said: “He knew about his family members using the data last week but he failed to mention anything to the media and public when questioned.

“Not only does that call into question Michael Matheson’s integrity, it also calls into question the First Minister’s integrity.”

She added: “I do believe that Michael Matheson’s position is now untenable because he admitted to lying to the public and the press.”

Scottish Parliamentary Elections 2021
Meghan Gallacher said Mr Matheson’s integrity was in question (Fraser Bremner)

On Thursday, Mr Matheson told Ms Gallacher in the Scottish Parliament chamber that parliamentary officials had advised him the iPad could be used for hotspotting purposes.

He said his teenage son had helped to set this up, leading to the unofficial data use.

Scottish Labour frontbencher Paul O’Kane also spoke to Good Morning Scotland about Mr Matheson.

He said the Health Secretary should “reflect on his position”, although “everyone would have a degree of sympathy when a family member is involved in something like this”.

Mr O’Kane said it is clear the Health Secretary “did not tell the truth” when he spoke to journalists on Monday.

Asked by reporters on Thursday after making his statement if he had offered to resign, Mr Matheson said: “No I haven’t. I don’t intend to.

“I intend to continue my work as MSP for Falkirk West and also to continue with the considerable responsibilities as Health Secretary.”

Asked if he had been watching the football with his children, he said: “No, I didn’t watch the football. I didn’t know the football was being watched.”