Michael Matheson Inquiry: Scottish Parliament’s Transparency Challenge

credit: scotsman

London (Parliament Politic Magazine) – The Scottish Parliament has been under fire for allegedly “hiding” behind their sleazy investigation into Michael Matheson after he declined to respond to straightforward inquiries on his actions. MSPs investigating whether the SNP minister violated the MSP code of conduct are members of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB).

However, authorities declined to respond to many inquiries made by the Scottish Daily Express under the Freedom of information act. Instead, they said that doing so would “prejudice” the ongoing investigation against the Scottish Government’s health minister. 

However, Mr. Matheson’s claim that his work on constituencies was the reason for his massive bill accumulation was found to be flawed by the parliament. The vast bulk of the £11,000 he subsequently acknowledged receiving came from his children, who used his iPad as a hotspot to watch Scottish football. Holyrood officials said that they had not looked through the SNP minister’s data log, but they did not say how many times it cautioned him to let them know he was going on a trip.

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According to Craig Hoy,

“In an interview with the Scottish Daily Express, Craig Hoy, the chairman of the Scottish Conservatives, said that the circumstances surrounding the scandal-plagued Michael Matheson have also raised serious questions about the processes in the Scottish Parliament.”

Just one week prior, over the previous holiday season, he had argued that he was working for his constituency while on a family vacation in Morocco. He delivered this poignant personal speech at Holyrood. Days after his children acknowledged what he had done, he also assured the media that there was no personal usage. The Scottish Parliament acknowledged that they had no idea if the data consumption had anything to do with his work email account uploads and downloads. 

This calls into question his assertion that, despite the fact that he was traveling to Scotland over a number of public holidays, he was utilizing the device to do constituency business. Several straightforward inquiries were also made. However, they were denied, such as how many alerts about travel are issued to MSPs annually. Holyrood officials handed out guidelines in an effort to avert another disaster. The SPCB needs to conduct its investigation with objectivity because of how politically sensitive the subject is.

It is essential to ensure that these matters are the focus of an impartial, fair investigation that protects the rights of the member who is the subject of the question in order to adhere to due process.

“The SPCB’s investigations are being conducted confidentially to preserve the fairness and integrity of the process.” “The public will rightly conclude the Scottish Parliament is being secretive, but the public has a right to know,” a Tory MSP said after The Daily Telegraph’s FOI request was denied. However, the Scottish Conservatives attacked this, arguing that the material could be made public without impacting the investigation. 

The public will be curious why the authorities have chosen to remain silent on important issues in favor of this protracted probe. It is a parliamentary debate and unprofessional to hide itself under the dialogues instead of clearing the main points.  Due to this procedure, Scots will have to put up with a distracted health secretary at a time when our NHS is experiencing disarray over the winter when he ought to have been fired weeks ago.

“We will not comment on or divulge anything that might impact the process in the interests of fairness to all parties and to avoid jeopardizing the current inquiry,” a Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said. The Health Secretary looked out on criticism before using his official iPad for internet roaming intervals on holiday in Morocco last Christmas, incurring costs of £11,000. Subsequently, it came up that he had violated the regulations established by his administration while renting out his holiday home, and the Falkirk Council has even called for his resignation. The Corporate Body is unwavering in its enthusiasm for openness and transparency, and it will abide by the law by providing all pertinent information as it becomes available.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.