'Mind-boggling' £11k iPad bill racked up by MSP will be paid by taxpayers

9 November 2023, 10:14 | Updated: 9 November 2023, 11:01

Government minister Michael Matheson racked by an £11k ipad bill while on holiday.
Government minister Michael Matheson racked by an £11k ipad bill while on holiday. Picture: Alamy

By Gina Davidson

A Scottish Government minister who spent nearly £11,000 using a parliament iPad while on a week's holiday in Morocco, is to have the bill paid by taxpayers.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Michael Matheson took the device abroad in Janauary to complete constituency work, but failed to switch to the Scottish Parliament's current mobile contract - racking up huge internet roaming charges.

And while Scottish Parliament officials tried to challenge the bill, the company declined to reduce it.

Now he has agreed to pay £3,000 towards the bill from his taxpayer-funded expenses budget and the Scottish Parliament will pay the remaining £8k.

Opposition MSPs have said that the taxpayer should not have to "foot the bill for Mr Matheson's mistake" and have urged him to pay it from his own pocket.

The huge bill only came to light after a claim of £3,000 appeared in the latest round of published MSPs' expenses.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Parliament said: “Substantial roaming charges were incurred by Mr Matheson on his parliamentary iPad while in Morocco at the start of this year.

"As the Member was still using the Parliament’s previous mobile provider, and hadn’t yet switched to our present contract, he incurred significant data fees over and above its ‘rest of the world’ tariff rate.

“The Parliament challenged the company over the scale of the data fees – which totalled £10,935.74 - and over the late warning to the rising cost, but the company declined to meet or waive any of the charges.

“On the basis that the Member has assured the Parliament that these costs were incurred in relation to parliamentary business and not for personal or government use, we agreed that Mr Matheson would contribute £3,000 from his office cost provision and the remainder would be paid centrally by the Parliament.”

At the time the Falkirk West MSP was the net zero, energy and transport secretary in Nicola Sturgeon's government, but he has since been appointed health secretary under Humza Yousaf.

Craig Hoy, the Scottish Conservatives chairman, called on Mr Matheson to pay the full bill from his own pocket.

"It's absolutely scandalous that taxpayers are picking up an enormous tab for Michael Matheson's mistake," he said.

"Even if we are to believe that he racked up this bill doing parliamentary and constituency work on a festive holiday in Morocco, the onus was on him to connect to the wifi where he was staying or check with the network provider to avoid brutal roaming charges."

And Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour's deputy leader, said the situation was "mind-boggling."

"What on earth could Mr Matheson have been doing to justify the public coughing up for this - the SNP is on a different planet when it comes to wasting taxpayers' cash.

"The Scottish public should not have to pick up this eye-watering bill for Michael Matheson."

LBC has approached Mr Matheson for comment.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

The UK is 'complicit in the killing of thousands of children,' Scotland's First Minister has claimed after the UK abstained on a United Nations vote for a ceasefire in Gaza.

UK 'complicit in the killing of children' in Gaza claims Scotland's First Minister after UK abstains from ceasefire vote

Congress Education Colleges Antisemitism

University leader resigns after evidence on campus antisemitism

The Royal family have released their Christmas cards for 2023

William and Kate release family photo for annual Christmas card as Charles and Camilla opt for coronation snap

A file image of Wilbury House, Norwich Road, Ipswich, where a newborn baby was found dead on the premises. Credit: Google Maps

Newborn baby found dead in Ipswich as police arrest two men and woman on suspicion of murder

Two people have been killed in a crash involving a police vehicle in Shropshire on Saturday morning. Credit: Google Maps

Two killed in collision involving police vehicle in Shropshire

Tens of thousands have marched through London to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel

Police arrest 13 as tens of thousands of protesters march through London in support of Gaza ceasefire

SantaCon NYC

Thousands of revellers descend on NYC for annual Santa-themed bar crawl SantaCon

A heart-broken family has cremated the wrong body after a mix-up by the Grange University Hospital in South Wales

Wrong body cremated after shocking South Wales hospital mix-up, as board apologises to the family

Russia Ukraine War

Soviet-era statue of Red Army commander taken down in Kyiv

Stephen Fry has said he feels "self conscious" going out without his walking stick which he has been using since his recovery from a fall in September. Credit: Alamy

Stephen Fry admits feeling 'self-conscious' using cane after recovering from agonising fall off O2 stage

Undated handout photo issued by Metropolitan Police of Lianne Gordon. A 16-year-old boy has been charged with the murder of Lianne, who was shot dead in Hackney, east London, the Metropolitan Police said. Issue date: Friday December 8, 2023.

Boy, 16, charged with murder of Lianne Gordon and two counts of attempted murder in Hackney shooting

Cop28 protests

Opec ‘panicking’ as Cop28 talks focus on possible fossil fuel phase-out

A bizarre fight broke out after a man tore down a Palestinian flag

Man rips down Palestinian flag in London before driver intervenes to stop him and ladder fight breaks out on street

Recep Tayyip Edrogan

Erdogan accuses West of ‘barbarism’ and Islamophobia over war in Gaza

Brits are facing Storms Elin and Fergus

Britain faces two storms as Elin and Fergus bring 70mph gusts and flooding with fresh yellow weather alerts issued

The Queen supported the idea of Harry keeping security after Megxit

Queen wanted Harry to keep security despite prince's claim he was 'forced' to leave UK after it was downgraded