Scotland's new Health Secretary, Neil Gray, has refused to be drawn on the controversial "golden goodbye" for his predecessor Michael Matheson.

The ex-minister is in line for a nearly £13,000 severance payout after resigning over his £11,000 iPad data roaming bill scandal

Like all those leaving office, he is automatically entitled to a one-off tax-free payment equal to 25% of his final salary 90 days after losing office.

READ MORE: Michael Matheson to get £13k golden goodbye

On top of his MSP's salary of £67,662, Mr Matheson earned an extra £50,849 a year as a cabinet secretary. That means his severance pay will be £12,712.25

The Tories have called for the minister to reject the payment. 

Asked if Mr Matheson should hand the money back, Mr Gray told BBC Scotland's Sunday Show: “That is a right that is afforded to him in demitting office, it's for him to decide in the circumstances.

“I think Michael has given 25 years of incredible public service as a member of the Scottish Parliament and over a decade of experience as a minister in the Scottish government.

“He has dedicated himself to public service.

“He made a mistake, there's no doubt in that. He has admitted that and apologised for that mistake and I think he [should be] afforded the due process.”

The Health Minister added: “It's for Michael to decide now whether he takes that.”

READ MORE: Michael Matheson 'lied flat out to the Presiding Officer'

Later on the programme, former health secretary Jeane Freeman also refused to be drawn on what Mr Matheson should do. 

She said it was "for an individual to make those decisions."

The ex-SNP minister said there had been "some serious missteps" by her old party.

She said Mr Matheson's resignation and the Cabinet reshuffle had all taken place on the same day as Labour dropped a £28bn commitment to green energy.

"The SNP and the Scottish Government could have had a good go at Labour," she said, pointing out that it was a general election year. 

"That was lost the focus because of what happened. All the focus was on Michael Matheson's resignation, the consequent reshuffle that then had to happen.

"I mean, this is politics 101. I'm not suggesting you dodge these things, but you manage how you do it. And it wasn't done as well as I would have wished it to have been done."

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross hit out at Mr Gray's comments. He said: “It would be outrageous if Michael Matheson trousered £12,000-plus in ministerial severance pay – and yet his successor as health secretary, Neil Gray, said on The Sunday Show that he had a 'right' to the pay-off and refused to say that he should reject it.

"This shows how arrogant and out of touch SNP ministers have become.”