Michael Matheson has resigned as Scottish health secretary after a scandal involving an £11,000 iPad roaming data bill.
A cross-party body in charge of the Scottish parliament launched an investigation in November after Mr Matheson took the parliamentary iPad with him on a week-long visit to Morocco with his family around Christmas in 2022.
His roaming charges for the iPad – not phone calls – totalled nearly £11,000 and were initially paid for by taxpayers after Mr Matheson claimed he ran up the eye-watering invoice undertaking constituency work during the trip.
Mr Matheson – who as Scotland’s cabinet secretary for NHS recovery, health and social care has an annual salary of £118,511 – later agreed to pay the money back to the Scottish parliament.
After the story hit the headlines, it then emerged his teenage sons had used the iPad as a hotspot to watch football while on the family vacation.
Mr Matheson’s resignation comes ahead of the conclusion of a probe by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB).
The Falkirk West MSP said he had still not received the findings of the review but had decided to step down in the meantime.
Tendering his resignation in a letter to First Minister Humza Yousaf on Thursday, Mr Matheson wrote: “Having requested that the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body review my data roaming charges from last year, I am conscious that this process will conclude in the coming weeks.
“I have still not received the findings of their review, 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.”
Mr Matheson, who was appointed health secretary last March when Mr Yousaf became first minister, told Holyrood he was unaware that his sons had used the iPad as a hotspot when he initially submitted the bill.
He claimed he was told the truth by his wife after the story sparked a public outcry.
Following his wife’s admission, Mr Matheson initially failed to publicly mention his sons’ involvement. Instead, he continued to insist the iPad was only used for parliamentary work and blamed an outdated SIM card for the excessive bill.
When questioned by journalists days after he knew the truth, he continued to deny the iPad was used for personal use until he made a statement to Holyrood.
Stepping down, Mr Matheson added he had been “enormously grateful” for the support Mr Yousaf had given to him and his family over the last year.
Mr Matheson said: “You are assured of my full support from the backbenches, as the MSP for Falkirk West, in driving forward our agenda and delivering an independent Scotland.
“I wish you every success as Scotland’s first minister.”
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In response, Mr Yousaf said he accepted the resignation “with sadness”.
The first minister added: “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.”