TORY plans to try and force former health secretary Michael Matheson to resign as an MSP have been dealt a fatal blow after the Greens said they would not support the “unscrupulous and vindictive” move.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross announced at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday that he would table a motion calling on Matheson to resign his seat in Holyrood.

There is no mechanism to remove a sitting MSP other than voluntary resignation, but a successful parliamentary motion would exert strong pressure.

It comes after Holyrood’s standards committee recommended a 27-day suspension and 54-day pay cut for Matheson after a row over an £11,000 iPad roaming bill which saw the SNP MSP lie and try to charge the taxpayer.

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The SNP have said that Matheson “should be punished”, but have refused to back the recommended sanctions.

First Minister John Swinney accused Tory MSP Annie Wells of having “prejudiced” the committee by making public statements about Matheson’s guilt before reviewing any evidence.

In a statement on Sunday, the Greens said they would support punishment for Matheson – but added that they would not be backing a motion calling on him to resign.

A party 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.”

The Green statement went on: “What we will not do is support the unscrupulous and vindictive calls for [Matheson] 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.”

Matheson has insisted he will not resign as an MSP – but has said he would accept a punishment agreed by parliament.