SNP minister racks up £11,000 in roaming charges and makes tax payers pay

A Scottish government minister managed to rack up almost £11,000 in data roaming costs on his parliament iPad while in Morocco.

Michael Matheson, the Scottish Health Secretary, claimed he was using the device for constituency work, but was yet to switch to the latest Holyrood mobile tariff.

Officials made efforts to change the bill, but the company refused to waive the charges.

The MSP agreed to fork out £3,000 towards the bill from his expenses budget and the Scottish Parliament has said it will pay the remainder.

According to The Telegraph, Mr Matheson took the iPad on a week-long family trip to the north African country over Christmas last year.

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The minister used his iPad without WiFi so prolifically that he accrued a £10,935.74 bill.

The publication alleges that insiders in the Scottish parliament claimed Mr Matheson refused to fork out the remaining £7,935.74 from his own pocket.

The Scottish parliament agreed to cover the majority of the charges after the Falkirk West MSP assured that “these costs were incurred in relation to parliamentary business and not for personal or Government use”.

A spokesperson for Mr Matheson told The Telegraph that he was not aware of a “problem with his device at the time, which has since been resolved” and added that use of the device was a “legitimate parliamentary expense to cover constituency work while overseas”.

The problem was reported to involve an old sim card in the iPad, which had not been replaced.

Craig Hoy, the Scottish Tory chairman, said: “It’s absolutely scandalous that taxpayers are picking up an enormous tab for Michael Matheson’s mistake.

“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.

“At a time when Scottish families are hard pressed, this is a scandal and demonstrates the SNP’s totally cavalier attitude to public money. The £120,00-a-year SNP Health Secretary should do the decent thing and repay this money out of his own pocket.”

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