SCOTLAND’S Health Secretary has explained how he racked up nearly £11,000 in roaming data charges on his iPad while on holiday in Morocco.

It was revealed that Michael Matheson incurred a fee of £10,935.74 during the week-long visit around Christmas last year.

As the device was issued by the Scottish Parliament, officials at Holyrood challenged the fee but the provider declined to waive it.

Matheson will contribute £3000 from his office costs to cover the bill while the rest will be paid by Parliament. 

Speaking to reporters in Holyrood after FMQs, Matheson said: “It’s been explained that it’s been caused by an outdated SIM card that was in an iPad that I had for constituency purposes, which was a parliamentary iPad.

“And it hadn’t been replaced. I wasn’t aware that it had to be replaced and the cost built up as a result of that.

“The network provider didn’t provide information around the costs that were being incurred as well so it was something that was unknown to me and as the parliament have also confirmed that the parliamentary equipment was used for constituency and parliamentary purposes.”

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A spokesman for Matheson had previously confirmed: “This was a legitimate parliamentary expense to cover constituency work while overseas.

“Mr Matheson was not aware of the problem with his device at the time, which has since been resolved.”

Some opposition MSPs were left fuming with Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie (below) saying Matheson “should have known better”.

The National: Jackie Baillie MSP

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

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: “Substantial roaming charges were incurred by Mr Matheson on his parliamentary iPad while in Morocco at the start of this year.

“As the member was still using the Parliament’s previous mobile provider and hadn’t yet switched to our present contract, he incurred significant data fees over and above its ‘rest of the world’ tariff rate.

“The Parliament challenged the company over the scale of the data fees – which totalled £10,935.74 – and over the late warning to the rising cost, but the company declined to meet or waive any of the charges.

“On the basis that the member has assured the Parliament that these costs were incurred in relation to parliamentary business and not for personal or Government use, we agreed that Mr Matheson would contribute £3000 from his office cost provision and the remainder would be paid centrally by the Parliament.”