Voters will judge SNP for ‘shameful’ defence of iPad MSP, Ross says

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the SNP defence of the former health secretary had damaged party candidates.

John Swinney has been warned voters will judge the SNP for its “shameful defence” of former health secretary Michael Matheson.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said candidates standing for the SNP at the General Election had been left in a “dreadful position” on the second day of campaigning.

The SNP leader and First Minister said he will not support a 27-day Holyrood ban for Matheson, who incurred a near-£11,000 data roaming bill on his parliamentary iPad while on a family holiday to Morocco.

Matheson initially stated his devices had only been used for parliamentary purposes, before later confessing his teenage sons had used it as a Wi-Fi hotspot to stream football.

John Swinney said he believed the investigation against Michael Matheson had been ‘prejudiced’.PA Media

While he paid back the bill in full and apologised, Holyrood’s Standard’s Committee also recommended a 54-day salary suspension, with Parliament expected to vote on the sanctions.

Swinney said he believed the investigation had been “prejudiced” by comments made by Tory MSP Annie Wells – who is a committee member – prior to the probe.

Campaigning in the North East on Friday, alongside local Gordon and Buchan candidate, Harriet Cross, Ross said voters will also punish the SNP for its “damaging” stance of a presumption against new oil and gas licences.

He said: “The SNP must sack Michael Matheson from the party and U-turn on their pathetic attempt to overturn the sanctions he faces for misusing taxpayers’ money and lying to the press, public and Scottish Parliament. In any other line of work, Michael Matheson would have already lost his job.

“John Swinney’s shameful defence of this disgraced former health secretary has left his nationalist candidates in a dreadful position on day one of this campaign.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross.PA Media

Ross’ party is expected to write to SNP candidates to demand to know their stance on Matheson.

Appealing to North East voters, he said the choice is firmly between SNP and the Tories.

“The SNP are opposed to new oil and gas developments, which is putting local jobs at risk,” he said.

“While the Scottish Conservatives are out speaking to people in the North East about the issues that matter to them, the nationalists will be mostly in the central belt talking about independence.”

The SNP has been asked for comment.

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