This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

“Nothing else happening in the world, scoop?” one Twitter user asked me on Thursday morning as I shared my colleague Caroline Wilson’s exclusive about Michael Matheson ditching a visit to a GP surgery in Glasgow.

He’s got a point. The world is in a perilous state. The Israel-Hamas war. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Tensions rising in the east. The UK and Scotland too have their own share of difficulties.

So why should we care so much about Michael Matheson’s iPad?

It’s not just the social media randos who make this point. Herald columnist and all-around good egg, Andy Maciver called the story “unimportant”.

Speaking on the Holyrood Sources podcast (which is, for my money, the best of all the many, many, many, many podcasts where men bang on about politics), he suggested it was a triviality rather than an issue of substance.

“I understand £11,000 is a lot of money, but in the grand scheme of things, I think this is an unimportant story. And it frustrates me that all we do in this country is get ourselves excited about this sort of crap.”

It’s a charge he repeats in his column today. And I can understand the point he makes. I also appreciate his argument – though think he’s being a bit harsh – about many of our MSPs not being top-drawer.

Matheson is, he says, one of the best.

Why would anyone want to be a politician when we get so bogged down on issues like this?

Well, here’s why I think Michael Matheson’s iPad matters. It’s also why I think Matheson’s position is untenable.

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It’s a question of integrity, not frivolity. On Monday, Matheson was asked directly if there was “any personal use” of his iPad. There was no ambiguity, no sophistry in his answer.

It was simple. “No.”

Let’s be blunt here, that was a lie.

He admitted as much in his personal statement to parliament when he told MSPs that he knew last Thursday that his parliamentary data had been used by family members to watch football. 

The Herald: Michael Matheson said 'no' when asked if there was personal use of his iPad which he retracted in his statement to parliament today Michael Matheson said 'no' when asked if there was personal use of his iPad which he retracted in his statement to parliament today (Image: Newsquest)
I can appreciate he wanted to protect his family, but a lie is a lie.

This is especially striking as during First Minister’s Questions, Humza Yousaf praised Matheson as a “man of honesty and integrity”.

That was after he knew that the minister had lied to journalists, and through them, the public.

Is this the government’s position? That it’s now acceptable to lie?

The whole affair stinks and it stinks because nobody asked questions.

No harm to Matheson’s boys. I don’t think there’s a parent of a teenager who couldn’t have some sympathy and understanding right now. And as god awful as it is for them just now – and I’m sure it will be – they should just hold on to the fact this is going to be some tale to tell in a decade or so.

I’m sure they’re great boys and you could see how much the whole thing pained Matheson in his personal statement, but questions remain over the minister’s judgement here.

If I suddenly had a massive bill because of a huge surge in internet use, you can be sure the first person I’d interrogate would be my kid.

But according to Matheson’s statement, he never really did. Even when he saw the statement from EE which showed that most of the costs related to the two days when Celtic were playing over the Christmas break.

Instead, he submitted an expenses claim for £3,000.

There are questions here for the Scottish Parliament too. They just took on face value the minister’s claim that the data had only been used for parliamentary work and were only too happy to pony up the remaining £7,935.74.

The only reason they’re not, or rather, the only reason the taxpayer is not, is because the press kept asking questions, questions that the First Minister, the parliament and Matheson should have been asking.

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They were questions that they did not want to ask, did not want to answer and when he couldn’t escape or run away, answered with an untruth.

On Wednesday, Yousaf said he considered the matter closed. It wasn’t. It still isn’t.

There are bigger things happening in the world, yes, and I am constantly in awe of colleagues risking their lives to tell us what’s happening in some of the most dangerous parts of the world.

But the idea that this means that Michael Matheson’s iPad doesn’t matter is ridiculous.

Because, frankly, Michael Matheson’s iPad is about much more than Michael Matheson’s iPad.