Michael Matheson will accept the punishment handed out by the Scottish Parliament, the SNP’s Depute Leader has said, despite the party’s "concerns" over the integrity of the process.

Holyrood’s Standards Committee recommended the ex-health secretary be suspended for 27 days over his £11,000 iPad expenses scandal.

The cross-party group of MSPs also called for his salary to be withdrawn for 54 days, a financial penalty roughly equivalent to the size of the ex-health secretary's data roaming bill.

It was one of the harshest sanctions ever meted out by the committee.

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Parliament is due to vote on whether to approve the censure this week.

While the Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and Alba will all vote for the tough measures, the SNP could try to soften the penalty.

A report in the Sunday Mail said the Greens were willing to back an amendment to shorten the suspension. However, the party has since denied that saying they will support the recommended sanction.

Given the SNP do not have a majority in parliament, it means Mr Matheson could find himself banned from taking part in debates and votes.

They have however said they will oppose a Tory motion calling for Mr Matheson to resign, due to be debated on Wednesday.

The SNP has criticised the Standards Committee, with John Swinney claiming it had not given his “friend and colleague” a fair hearing.

Last week, he pointed to remarks made by Tory MSP Annie Wells when she said the "desperate efforts" by Mr Matheson to justify his expenses claim had been "riddled with lies, cover-ups and the need for us all to suspend our disbelief."

Mr Swinney said that if a constituent was facing disciplinary action at work and their employer made similar comments, he would “come down on that employer like a tonne of bricks”.

He added: “That is the situation that Michael Matheson is facing here, and that is why I will not be supporting the sanction.”

Appearing on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, Mr Brown said: “I think what John Swinney is saying is he's very concerned - and I say this as an ex-convener of the standards committee - that the parliament and its processes must have integrity, and it's quite clear, in this particular case, they didn't.

“That is not to say, of course, Michael Matheson didn't make mistakes. He has said he will accept whatever the censure or punishment is from the Scottish Parliament.

“That's for the Standards Committee to do properly but I think in this case, they've not done it properly.

“You've one member of the Standards Committee making public statements before she even considered the evidence, and also she was the person apparently that moved the expansion in the terms of the punishment.”

Mr Brown added: “Every person in the parliament, every trade unionist, every person that's been through a judicial process wants it to have integrity, and it's not had that which is a separate issue from the fact that Michael Matheson made mistakes and should be punished for it.”

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Labour's Ian Murray said the First Minister’s decision to defend Mr Matheson will lead to a “Swinney slump” for the SNP at the General Election.

He said: “SNP MPs must be looking at John Swinney’s decision to defend Michael Matheson in absolute despair.

“This a man who attempted to defraud the taxpayer of £11,000 and then lied about it. He’s been caught bang to rights and defending this sleaze will lead to a Swinney slump on July 4."

The Herald:

The Shadow Scottish Secretary added: “The country is crying out for change but John Swinney can’t deliver that because he’s been at the heart of the SNP for decades. He only offers continuity, and we all know continuity won’t cut it.

“People are seeing the SNP leader defending sleaze when they could have Scottish Labour MPs delivering change.”

On Saturday, Mr Swinney defended his decision to challenge the committee’s sanction, while acknowledging that Mr Matheson had “made mistakes” and faced consequences.

Mr Swinney said: “We cannot have our national Parliament presiding over prejudice and certainly not prejudice from the Conservatives.”

Asked if Ms Wells’s comment had undermined the entire committee’s decision, he said: “I think when you bring prejudice into a process, you have to recognise the process is damaged as a consequence.

“Now Parliament will sort out these issues, it will address these issues as it considers the report.”