Humza Yousaf has paid fulsome tribute to Michael Matheson despite reports that his former health secretary lied to Holyrood’s Presiding Officer.

The plaudits for the Falkirk West MSP come ahead of the imminent publication of an investigation into his £11,000 iPad data charges.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said Mr Matheson had “many notable achievements to his name” and through his work in government had “undoubtedly improved the lives of many people across the country.”

He credited his ex-cabinet colleague with successfully negotiating with junior doctors, avoiding strike action in Scotland

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

The initial findings of the investigation by the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) into the iPad use and expenses claim were passed to Mr Matheson on February 8, just hours after his resignation. 

He has until this Thursday to make representations. The cross-party body will then meet and consider what bearing, if any, the ex-minister's comments have on their draft findings.

The ex-minister could be referred to either Holyrood’s standards, procedures and public appointments or the Ethical Standards Commissioner.

Last week, it was reported that Mr Matheson initially told Alison Johnstone that he did not know why his data roaming bill was so high after he knew that his teenage sons had used his parliamentary iPad as a wifi hotspot during a family holiday in Morocco.

The veteran SNP MSP has already admitted lying to the press about the charges.

On 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".

He later said this was because he wanted to “protect my children from getting involved in something that had significant parliamentary, political, and media interest."

READ MORE: Neil Gray becomes Health Secretary in Scottish Government reshuffle

The First Minister's praise for Mr Matheson came as he sought parliamentary approval following the mini-reshuffle sparked by the resignation of the Falkik West MSP.

Changes included Fiona Hyslop being brought back into the cabinet, with Transport becoming a senior position.

The Herald:

Glasgow Kelvin MSP Kaukab Stewart was promoted to minister for Culture, Europe and International Development, while MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire Jim Fairlie became minister for agriculture and connectivity.

Mr Yousaf said the new appointments meant the SNP had “a strong team across government, a diverse team across government."

He told MSP: "And with our Green partners, and wider SNP parliamentary group which is focused on this government's priorities and the missions that drive them, namely equality of opportunity, and community, this is the team that will continue to deliver and to stand up for the people of Scotland and of course advocate that the best future for our country is one where all decisions about Scotland are made by the people of Scotland.”

Tory MSP Craig Hoy said this was “a reshuffle that the First Minister did not want to make, a reshuffle brought about by the actions of Michael Matheson, someone that Humza Yousaf believed to be a man of integrity.

“A man who had to sack himself because the First Minister was too weak to do so. This winter, Michael Matheson should have been saving our NHS, but he spent it instead trying to save his own career.”

Labour’s Dame Jackie Baillie said she was “not convinced that the addition of more ministers will stop the ship from sinking.”

She said the SNP government was “tired, out of ideas and out of road. Scotland has got worse under the SNP and no matter how gifted these individuals may be, The die is cast. Change is coming.”

She also suggested Mr Yousaf had promoted Mr Fairlie because of his closeness to leadership rival, Kate Forbes.

The Herald:

The MSP was, she said, “the fig leaf for the First Minister, who didn't want to recruit the actual change agenda candidate Kate Forbes to his team.”

“I'm sure that Mr Fairlie will be more than up to the job in her absence,” she added.

There were also tributes from all parties to Donald Cameron, who quit Holyrood last week to take up a place in the House of Lords, so that he can become a Scotland Office minister.

Tim Eagle, his replacement, was sworn in ahead of the brief debate.