Humza Yousaf believes he was not misled by Michael Matheson over the £11,000 data roaming bill scandal.

The First Minister admitted that his  Health Secretary “should have handled the situation better” but said he was a “man of integrity and honesty.”

MSPs look set to debate a motion of no confidence in the minister this week, though the Bute House Agreement means there's little danger of the government losing. 

READ MORE: Michael Matheson blames teenage sons for £11k data roaming bill

Last week, Mr Matheson blamed his teenage sons for running up the eyewatering charge. 

He told MSPs that the boys had being watching football during a family trip to Morrocco at the start of the year.

Mr Matheson claimed he only learned about their use of his parliamentary iPad last Thursday, following days of media scrutiny over his staggering expenses claim. 

However, on Monday, when asked directly if there was "any personal use" of the device during the family holiday, he told reporters: "No”

When asked if anyone else could have used the device, he, again, said, "no."

Initially, the SNP minister was going to pay £3,000 towards the cost from his expenses budget, with the Scottish Parliament paying the rest.

It was on Friday, after he learned about his sons' use of the device that he and the family said they would pay the full charge. 

In his personal statement to the Scottish Parliament, he said he informed the First Minister of the truth on Tuesday.

The following day, Mr Yousaf said the matter was “now closed.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme, the First Minister was asked if Mr Matheson misled him.



He said: "Michael had only used the iPad for parliamentary purposes. He obviously spoke to his family when the bill first came out and had been given assurances it wasn't used for any purposes.

"Look, I've got teenage kids myself. I think anybody that does have teenage kids will know, I'm afraid, from time to time when they do something they shouldn't, they'll try to cover their tracks in the first instance. 

"I know Michael's boys well, and I've known them for many years, they're no different to any other teenagers in that respect. 

"When Michael, of course, found out the truth, which was towards the end of last week, he immediately decided alongside his wife to repay the full amount to Parliament. 

"There's a legitimate question that people have asked and Michael addressed this last week around whether he at that point should have been upfront publicly, around the fact that what was the reason that he was choosing to repay the entire bill."

Mr Yousaf said Mr Matheson's lie was because he was trying to "protect his children from media scrutiny and media spotlight."

READ MORE: Matheson undermined Holyrood and humiliated those he loves the most

The SNP leader said the minister had been confronted by journalists at his £400,000 home in Glasgow.

"That's not an intrusion that any of us would like," Mr Yousaf said.

"Look for me, Michael, who I've known for well over 15 years is a man of integrity and honesty. He should have handled the situation better, Michael knows that."

The Herald:

Asked again if Mr Matheson had misled, Mr Yousaf replied: "No, no, I don't believe Michael did."

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross accused Mr Matheson of “hiding away” from scrutiny.

The claim came after Martin Geisler, the host of the BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show said Mr Matheson and Mr Yousaf had turned down requests for an interview. The broadcaster also said that Shona Robison had been due to appear on the programme, but pulled out at the last minute. 

Mr Ross said: “It’s clear the SNP are now running scared of the Michael Matheson scandal.

"It’s unacceptable that neither the health secretary nor Humza Yousaf are willing to answer questions on this issue when the former knowingly and repeatedly lied and the First Minister facilitated a cover-up.

"Now we discover that Shona Robison was so fearful of having to defend the indefensible that she cancelled her pre-arranged interview.

“This scandal is now impacting on the whole SNP government – not just a health secretary who is ditching ministerial engagements to lie low.

"The SNP must agree to Scottish Conservative demands for a debate in parliament this week because there are so many key questions that remain unanswered. 

"And that’s regardless of whether or not Humza Yousaf finally does the right thing and sacks Michael Matheson.

"He simply cannot continue as health secretary, and the longer he does the more his position in government becomes a distraction for Humza Yousaf and the SNP."

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also appeared on the Sunday Show, repeating his call for the Health Secretary to resign.

Mr Sarwar said: “I don’t think the First Minister or the Parliament should have any confidence in Michael Matheson, he should resign.

“He says he found out the truth on Thursday, but he continued to tell mistruths to the public for days after.

“He says he told the First Minister on Tuesday, the First Minister also told mistruths the day after as well. That’s not acceptable in public life.”

One SNP MP told the Sunday Times, there was unhappiness about the row amongst the Westminster group: "We’re fighting serious issues at Westminster, we are fighting the good fight — on Rwanda, on Gaza, on Suella Braverman — and we’re on the frontline of a coming general election.”

“For Humza to fight for someone who has done wrong at Holyrood is a case of defending the indefensible. Michael should have resigned before now.”