Michael Matheson has been given an extension to respond to a Holyrood report into his £11,000 bill for his parliamentary iPad racked up while on holiday.

Mr Matheson now has ten more days to give "to provide any further representations" he wants to make to the inquiry after he received the draft findings of the investigation by the Scottish Parliament's Corporate Body on 8 February - the day he stood down as health secretary.

By The Herald's calculation that sets a new deadline of March 3 for the former health secretary. 

The coming weeks will be a difficult time for the Falkirk West MSP, who is one of just nine remaining members of the 1999 club - the group of parliamentarians first elected to the new devolved Edinburgh parliament. Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney are also members of the same "club".

Mr Matheson has not returned to parliament since MSPs returned from a week long recess this Monday and it is now likely that he will not do so until he has completed his response to the SPCB's probe.

It has been reported that the draft findings of the investigation includes an allegation he misled the parliament's top elected official, Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone.

Depending on the outcome of the final report, there may be a number of options open to the SPCB, as set out in the Code of Conduct for MSPs, including referral to the Standards, Procedures, and Public Appointments Committee.

If members of that committee agree that the code has been breached, they may recommend a sanction against the MSP – this can range from preventing them from lodging parliamentary motions for a short period, right up to full suspension from parliament. A motion must be agreed by the parliament for the sanction to come into force.

With the process still some way to go, it looks like it could be some weeks before Mr Matheson, the Scottish Government, the SNP and voters will know his fate.

The Scottish Conservatives this evening accused the former health secretary of stalling developments by seeking an extension.

The SPCB said the delay was granted to ensure fairness.

And depending on the findings of the final report there may be questions for the First Minister to answer.

The Conservatives have repeatedly criticised Humza Yousaf for standing by his health secretary when the bill first surfaced saying it was "a legitimate expense" and for continuing to defend him.

Mr Yousaf later had to deny he was misled by the former health secretary when he later admitted the bill was run up by his sons watching football during a family holiday to Morocco.

However, the First Minister admitted Mr Matheson could have handled the situation better.

Regarded as a hard working, loyal and good at his good job Mr Matheson is highly well connected in the government and the SNP.

He supported Humza Yousaf in last year's SNP leadership contest, succeeding Mr Yousaf as health secretary when he became First Minister.

When the massive bill first became public, Mr Yousaf was quick to dismiss it describing it as a "legitimate" expense" and fully backed his health secretary.

Indeed, after Mr Matheson resigned, Mr Yousaf continued to defend his former health secretary over claims of dishonesty following a scathing attack from the leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross called Mr Matheson “dishonest”, questioned why Mr Yousaf had previously said he was a “man of integrity and honesty”, and asked why the First Minister continued to act as a “human shield” for the former cabinet secretary.

It's very clear that Mr Yousaf did not want his health secretary to step down when the scandal first broke and when Mr Matheson did offer his letter of resignation, the First Minister said it was "with sadness" that he accepted it.

He added: "I agree that it is..best for you to now step down to ensure you are able to give the Parliamentary process the attention it deserves without it becoming a distraction to taking forward the Government's agenda."

The resignation left him having to reshuffle his Cabinet and appoint a new health secretary - Neil Gray - to tackle massive problems facing the NHS as he continues to struggle with the impact of the Covid pandemic.

A respected figure among medical and health professionals, the BMA was also disappointed to see Mr Matheson's exit from government.

Before his political career, he was an occupational therapist for Highland council and Stirling council, perhaps given him an insight into the health service that other politicians without such frontline experience would lack.

Mr Matheson was first elected as a regional MSP for central Scotland, before becoming MSP for Falkirk West in 2007.

He sat on the Holyrood backbenches until 2011, when he was appointed Minister for Public Health - supporting Nicola Sturgeon in her job as health secretary at the time.

When Ms Sturgeon became first minister in 2014, he was given his first cabinet position as justice secretary. He was shifted to Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity in a Cabinet reshuffle in 2018.

During this time his portfolio changed, with infrastructure and connectivity being replaced with net zero and energy, becoming secretary for net zero, energy and transport.