MICHAEL Matheson has been in no mood to apologise nor to give a fuller explanation of how he ended up with a bill for almost £11,000 for using his parliamentary iPad while on holiday in Morocco.

Instead, when pressed in an impromptu press huddle following First Minister's Questions yesterday the health secretary stuck to the response issued by the SNP's communications department the previous day.

“It’s been explained that it’s been caused by an outdated Sim card in an iPad that I had for constituency purposes. I wasn’t aware that it had to be replaced and the cost built up as a result of that," he said before dashing off.

The Herald pressed Mr Matheson several times for details as he headed away towards the entrance to the ministerial corridor, asking the cabinet minister what parliamentary and/or constituency work he was doing in Morocco. But answers came there none.

Later in the day journalists once again tried to get a fuller explanation for the costs.

One reporter asked him if the device that incurred the £11,000 data roaming bill abroad was used to stream any entertainment.

"Look," he replied. "I've already made a statement, all right, ok?"

Mr Matheson obviously made a mistake and has tonight, belatedly, promised to pay the bill out of his own pocket.

He along with all MSPs were told by the Scottish Parliament in February 2022 that they needed to switch their Sim card to a new provider "so the appropriate roaming package could be applied".

The Holyrood authorities say all MSPs were emailed about the requirement to change their Sim cards from EE to Vodafone and that their records show Mr Matheson was included in this list.

Parliament also says Mr Matheson's mobile phone Sim was successfully switched to Vodaphone during the migration process. It is unclear if Mr Matheson was then reminded personally that he needed also to switch his iPad but Holyrood authorities say it is "highly likely" he would have been.

But Mr Matheson, for whatever reason, did not switch his Sim iPad and instead racked up an bill of such size it's understood to be unprecedented in Holyrood.

The problem for Mr Matheson, the SNP MSP for Falkirk West, is that his mistake is now being compounded by his response and attitude to the situation.

While he's now decided to pay the bill, his statement announcing that he would do so, showed no signs of contrition.

Until he faced intense pressure and a mounting public outcry, he seemed content for the tab to be picked up by the taxpayer.

He's also struck a rather unfortunate high handed manner towards the matter, dismissing reasonable questions from journalists.

 The danger for Mr Matheson and to the SNP is that the episode has cut through with voters.

Many employees will have shuddered to think of the disciplinary action that would have been taken against them if they had made such a mistake in their own working lives. 

And there has been the issue of fairness. Voters really don't like politicians being seen to be judged by a lower standard than everyone else, as we've seen with various goings on at Westminster, most strikingly the Partygate scandal.

Opposition politicians will continue to seize on the matter with the Conservatives tonight urging Mr Matheson to make a statement to Parliament next week to explain the full details.

With the NHS heading into winter and with reducing waiting lists for hospital treatment a key priority for government, First Minister Humza Yousaf is highly unlikely to remove his health secretary at the present time.

But nonetheless Mr Matheson's embarrassing mistake is rather uncomfortable for Mr Yousaf, and along with the ongoing row over the release of Covid Whatsapp messages adds to a perception of ministers not wishing to be fully open and transparent with the public.