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Police assessing new Matheson complaint


Police are assessing a new complaint relating to Michael Matheson’s near-£11,000 iPad data roaming bill.

The Nationalist MSP for Falkirk West was forced to quit as health secretary after claiming his sons used the parliamentary device as a wi-fi hotspot to watch football on a family holiday to Morocco.

Now police have confirmed a complaint about Mr Matheson is being ‘assessed’.

It comes as First Minister John Swinney faces criticism from within his own party over the handling of the scandal, with SNP politicians raising concerns about it derailing the Nationalists’ election campaign.

MSPs voted on Wednesday to impose a record suspension of 27 sitting days on Mr Matheson and dock him 54 days’ wages –roughly equivalent to the iPad charges.

Michael Matheson with something on his mind at Holyrood last month

Michael Matheson with something on his mind at Holyrood last month

The issue surrounding Mr Matheson’s iPad bill triggered a complaint to Police Scotland in November.

That complaint was not progressed – but the force said a new complaint had been made.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: ‘A complaint which had been received in November 2023 was assessed and no further action was taken.

A further complaint has been received which is being assessed.’

Mr Swinney has angered his colleagues by spending nearly a week opposing sanctions against Mr Matheson proposed by Holyrood’s standards committee.

His critics say it led to a ‘forfeited week’ in the General Election campaign.

In a humiliating defeat for Mr Swinney, MSPs approved the biggest sanction ever handed out at the Scottish parliament.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross yesterday wrote to the First Minister to urge him to suspend Mr Matheson from the SNP with immediate effect.

But the handling of the situation has also caused friction in the SNP, with one Nationalist MSP saying: ‘It is a complete disaster.

He could have closed it down a week ago by accepting parliament’s recommendation.

‘He could have expressed reservations about the process but said that parliament has expressed a view, mistakes were made and rules breached. It was a serious matter and there was a complete mishandling of it.

‘It was a week lost for the campaign, a forfeited week.’

Mr Ross, who brandished a red card at campaign events yesterday and urged voters to give SNP candidates ‘the sending-off they deserve’, wrote to Mr Swinney to condemn the failure to take action against Mr Matheson.

In the letter, he said: ‘Despite the ban from parliament, Michael Matheson still enjoys your support and has not received any sanction from the SNP.

‘During this session of parliament, the SNP at Holyrood have been willing to suspend a member from their party, as we saw when Fergus Ewing was punished for voting against a Green minister in a motion of no confidence.

‘It is clear that the actions of Michael Matheson were much more serious – and harmful to the reputation of parliament –than Fergus Ewing’s supposed crime.

Therefore, I am urging you to suspend Michael Matheson from the Scottish National Party with immediate effect.’

He added: ‘I am sure you will agree it is inconceivable that Mr Matheson could be banned from parliament but still remain a member of the SNP parliamentary group at Holyrood and a member of the party.

It cannot be right that you protect a colleague from punishment just because he is your “friend”.’

Mr Ross said that ‘in any other walk of life Michael Matheson would have been sacked’.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also condemned Mr Swinney’s handling of the controversy yesterday and called for voters to get the power to recall MSPs.

Sir Keir claimed the ‘parallels with the Tories and the SNP are very striking now’, and said: ‘You’ve got chaos and division, both in Westminster and with the SNP. You’ve got unelected leader after unelected leader in Westminster and with the SNP.

And now on standards in public life, you’ve got the SNP picking up the Boris Johnson playbook.

‘I mean, that’s how striking the examples are. So, of course, as Anas [Sarwar] says, there should be a recall petition.

It’s worked well in our Parliament, and we’ve had a number of by-elections which we’ve very much enjoyed.’

Ahead of campaign events in the North-East today, Mr Swinney said the Conservatives ‘deserve the democratic drubbing that is coming their way’.

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