Michael Matheson is refusing to quit as Health Secretary as the row over his £11,000 iPad data roaming bill continues to rumble on. 

The minister insisted he was focused on doing his job but speaking to journalists after chairing NHS Forth Valley’s annual review, he refused to say if he had lied about the eye-watering charges. 

The Scottish Conservatives are set to push for parliamentary time to be set aside this week for the beleaguered SNP politician to make a statement. They say a “significant” number of questions remain “wholly unanswered.”

READ MORE: Still 'significant' questions for Matheson over £11k data scandal

Last week, Mr Matheson blamed his teenage sons for the huge bill.

He told MSPs that the boys had been 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 on Thursday 9 November, following days of media scrutiny over the staggering expenses claim.

However, on Monday 13 November, 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".

Asked by the PA if he had lied to journalists, Mr Matheson dodged the question. “I set out all the circumstances and explained the way in which I’d handled it in the course of my personal statement last week.”

He added that he had referred himself to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body "to consider whether they think the matter needs to be investigated further. If they choose to do so I'll fully comply with that."

Asked about the prospect of a no confidence vote, Mr Matheson said: “I’m confident in standing on my track record as Health Secretary and what I’ve done over the course of the last eight or nine months.”

Parliament first confronted Mr Matheson over the bill in February. Then he seemingly insisted the charges related solely to parliamentary work, with Holyrood accepting his explanation at face value and allowing him to use £3,000 of expenses.

The parliament then paid the £7,935.74 balance.

When details of the bill were first uncovered at the start of November by the Daily Telegraph, Mr Matheson’s spokesman blamed an old SIM card.

It was only Friday 10 November, a day after he says he learned that his sons had tethered their devices to his iPad to use the data, that he 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 14 November.

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

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

Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said the government was clearly hoping the “scandal will just go away.”


He said: “Michael Matheson might have run up this eye-watering bill, but he cannot continue to run away from this scandal.

“He – and the other most senior members of the SNP Government – spent the weekend largely avoiding scrutiny and clearly hoping this scandal will just go away.

“That is wishful thinking when we know that the health secretary lied to the press and public over whether this parliamentary device had been used for personal purposes."

The Scottish Tory leader added: “His personal statement last week allowed a severely limited time for questioning. A significant number of questions remain wholly unanswered.

"That is why my party is calling for a substantial amount of Parliamentary time to be set aside to allow Michael Matheson to make another statement and for us to be allowed extensive questioning to get answers.

“The public has lost confidence in the Health Secretary at a time when our NHS is bracing itself for its worst winter ever.

"The whole government is distracted by this scandal, with Michael Matheson cancelling visits and interviews last week because he doesn’t want to be questioned on this.

“Until he resigns, or Humza Yousaf does the right thing and sacks him, my party will continue to use every method possible in Parliament to hold Michael Matheson to account for his lies and lack of answers.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme on Sunday, the First Minister was asked if he thought Mr Matheson had 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."

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."

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