HEALTH Secretary Michael Matheson told MSPs that his teenagers were behind the £11,000 iPad bill after watching a number of football matches.

An emotional Matheson told the chamber that he found out last Thursday that his children had been using the parliamentary iPad without his knowledge.

He insisted that the truth only emerged about the data usage when the story hit the headlines last week but that the responsibility for the iPad was his alone.

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Speaking to journalists after his statement, the Health Secretary insisted that he would not resign and that he had not watched the football matches himself.  

Matheson said he "should have pressed harder" to discover the truth about the charges when they emerged and made the "immediate decision" to fully reimburse Parliament.

He said he "did not knowingly run up the roaming charges bill", adding: "Quite the reverse."

Matheson told the Holyrood chamber that last Thursday evening he was told by his wife that "other members of our family had made use of the iPad's data".

"This was the first I knew that the data had been used by anyone else," he said. 

The National:

"I had previously checked this but the truth only emerged after this story was in the news."

Matheson admitted that he made no reference to his knowledge that his children had used the iPad in a statement he issued last Friday. 

"As a parent, I wanted to protect them from being part of the political and media scrutiny associated with this, something I believe any parent would want to do.

"I am a father first and foremost.

"That was a mistake and I am sorry.

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"Presiding Officer, the simple truth is they watched football matches.

"I can see now that it just isn’t possible to explain the data usage without explaining their role."

Matheson insisted that as EE had refused to explain how the data was incurred to parliamentary authorities, he had been unable to explain how the charges occurred.

He revealed that he told the First Minister about his children's involvement on Tuesday, understood to be after the weekly Cabinet meeting, and provided a "full account of the matter" to Humza Yousaf on Wednesday evening. 

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"Presiding Officer, disclosing this information about our family has been extremely difficult," Matheson said. 

"Mistakes have been made. By me. By my family. And mistakes have been made in the way I have handled this.

"I should have sorted the sim card, and, I should have investigated what happened more thoroughly.

"I accept that, take full responsibility and apologise unreservedly."

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Matheson added that he had referred himself to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body to be investigated under the MSP code of conduct.

MSPs unanimously agreed to suspend a Parliamentary standing order to allow Matheson to be questioned on his statement, as it was being given in a personal capacity, rather than on behalf of the Government.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said that while he recognised the "difficulty" the incident had caused, "questions remain" over Matheson's previous assurances that the device was only used for parliamentary purposes. 

"If it has now transpired that his son was watching football, why did he claim he was doing Parliamentary work?" Ross said. 

The National:

"How he could 100% say to Parliament when claiming £11,000 taxpayers money that he was doing parliamentary work, the two stories do not align.

"It does seem that Parliament was misled to make that claim."

Matheson replied that when he was made aware of the high cost of the charges, the Holyrood IT department did contact EE to find out more details about how they had occurred. 

He said: "Unfortunately the network provider was unable to provide that information to the Parliament, and therefore we were unable to identify how the costs of the roaming charges associated with my iPad had been accrued."

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Matheson added that he did give the iPad to the IT department to see if there was "an issue with it".

He added: "This has been a challenging and emotional time for my family. I chose not to provide details of that in my statement on Friday because it would implicate my children in this issue."

The Tories are reportedly still looking to call a vote of no confidence in Matheson.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said that while anyone with a teenager would "understand what has happened", what the public would "not understand is the coverup" and said Matheson had created a "mess of his own making".

She accused the Health Secretary of being "negligent" and if he understood that some may have lost confidence in his ability to do his job.

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Matheson replied that he accepted the incident was "wholly" his responsibility and that his understanding was during the trip, the iPad had only been used for Parliamentary purposes. 

"Clearly things have changed as a result of the information I now have," he said.

Speaking to journalists after the statement, he insisted he didn't watch the football and wasn't aware it was "being watched either".

Asked if he would resign, Matheson said: "No I don’t intend to, as I said in my statement I intend to continue the work as MSP for Falkirk West and continue to take on the considerable responsibilities as Health Secretary."