Most Scots think Matheson should quit over roaming charges row, poll suggests

A poll suggests 61% of Scots think Health Secretary Michael Matheson should resign following revelations about an £11,000 data roaming bill he racked up on his parliamentary iPad.

The Ipsos poll for STV News also found a majority of SNP voters believe he should quit.

The SNP minister’s use of expenses to cover the bill is currently being investigated by authorities at Holyrood.

He admitted earlier this month the bill had been caused by his teenage sons using the iPad as a hotspot to watch football during a family holiday to Morocco last Christmas.

That admission came just days after Mr Matheson told journalists there had not been any personal use of the device.

While he has now agreed to pay back the full cost of the data bill, opposition parties have called on him to resign or be sacked.

Ipsos found 61% believe Mr Matheson should go, while 31% feel he should stay on as Health Secretary.

A total of 1,004 Scottish adults were polled between November 20 and 26.

National winter health campaign
Mr Matheson said he is ‘committed’ to his Scottish Government role (Jane Barlow/PA)

Among 2021 SNP voters, 52% said he should resign and 44% said he should stay.

Mr Matheson was asked about the polling when he spoke to journalists earlier on Wednesday.

He said he is “committed” to his job as Health Secretary and supporting the NHS through the winter period.

Mr Matheson said: “I recognise some of the public concern around this matter.

“As I set out to Parliament, as soon as I became aware that there had been use of my iPad for personal purposes I took immediate action to ensure Parliament was fully reimbursed for that.”

He said it is appropriate that the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) is investigating the matter.

Douglas Ross
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross accused Michael Matheson of a ’tissue of lies and cover-ups’ (PA)

Mr Matheson added: “The First Minister has been very clear about me making sure that I continue to drive forward the NHS and support its recovery.

“That’s what I’m focused on doing, I think the public want to know and make sure I’m focused on doing my job to support the NHS, to make sure we’re planning for the winter.”

He said he will not provide a “running commentary” on the SPCB investigation, but added he does not know its timescale.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “The Scottish public can see right through Michael Matheson’s tissue of lies and cover-ups.

“By a huge majority they recognise the Health Secretary’s position is untenable and that he has to go.

“It beggars belief that (First Minister) Humza Yousaf and Michael Matheson refuse to recognise this, when even a majority of SNP supporters do.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Dame Jackie Baillie also called for Mr Matheson to quit, saying: “The verdict of the Scottish public is clear – they want a health minister that is focused on our NHS, not one focused on saving his job.

“Michael Matheson has misled the public and taken the focus away from the ongoing and deadly crisis in our NHS.”