Scottish Greens back Michael Matheson sanctions but highlight committee 'prejudice'

Michael Matheson
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)


The Greens have said they will vote for their former government colleague Michael Matheson to received further sanctions for following the row over a near-£11,000 data roaming bill on his parliamentary iPad.

The Holyrood Standards Committee backed a 27-day suspension for Mr Matheson, who was Health Secretary at the time. First Minister John Swinney has challenged the sanction, saying the process was “damaged” by “prejudice” from one of the committee members.

The SNP leader highlighted Tory MSP Annie Wells' previous critical comments about Mr Matheson’s explanation for the five-figure bill. Mr Swinney believes this prejudiced the cross-party committee's decision.

The Greens - who were booted out of Government when Humza Yousaf ended the Bute House Agreement, a move which ultimately led to his resignation - say they are backing further punishment for Mr Matheson, the SNP MSP for Falkirk West.

But, similarly to the First Minister, their seven indy-supporting MSPs raised concerns about the Standards Committee. They believe it was not "consistent" in its approach to sanctions in this case and "allowed members to pre-judge the case".

In a statement on Saturday, the Greens highlighted that draft proposals were leaked and said that the committee "will require a more rigorous approach in future" if it is to "retain confidence" of MSPs.

Scottish Green Party leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater
Scottish Green Party leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater -Credit:Jane Barlow/PA Wire

The Greens also blasted the "unscrupulous and vindictive" calls from the Conservatives for Mr Matheson to resign, branding the Tories "shallow and callous" and claiming they are "abusing their positions" as MSPs.

A Scottish Greens spokesperson said: “Michael Matheson made a mistake for which he has already been punished, but it is the view of the Green Group of MSPs that it is correct that he receives further parliamentary sanction, and we will vote for such action.

“However, we are united in our concern that the Standards Committee does not appear to have a consistent approach to the level of sanctions proposed, has allowed members to pre-judge the case, and has also seen draft proposals leaked.

"It is clear that if it is to retain confidence, the Committee will require a more rigorous approach in future.

“What we will not do is support the unscrupulous and vindictive calls for him to resign from the Tories who are being not just shallow and callous, but abusing their positions as parliamentarians through partisan self-interest which is the hallmark of Conservative politicians the length and breadth of the country.

“Their actions shame their benches and the public will see through their nasty opportunism.

"The Scottish Parliament and MSPs within it should observe the highest standards and lead by example. We hope SNP and Tory members will now reflect upon this sorry chapter.”

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