However, equally as bad, if not worse, is the accountability. In business organisations there are procedures and regulations for claiming expenses. Someone has to approve them. At a senior level like this it would generally be the chief executive or the financial director so, in the Scottish Government, who either failed to spot this or turned a blind eye to it?
It is the same total lack of accountability that allowed the Ferguson Marine debacle to take place and guess what? No one has been taken to task for this.
This Government, which aspires to run an independent nation, has a lot to learn about how businesses operate and it’s pretty obvious to me that there should be an independent inquiry, not into Michael Matheson, but into the whole system of accountability at Holyrood.
Finally, if Mr Matheson is so naive as to think this would not have been unearthed, is he really fit to run a major department of the Government?
William McRae Allan, Stonehaven.
What the code actually says
RATHER than listen to the pathetic words from Messrs Mathieson, Yousaf etc, I looked up the Scottish Government Ministerial Code and the following are direct extracts.
From the General Principles section at the very start of the code: “Scottish Ministers are expected to maintain high standards of behaviour and to behave in a way that upholds the highest standards of propriety” and “It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to the Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity. Ministers who knowingly mislead the Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the First Minister” and from the supporting annex document: “Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing” and “Holders of public office should be truthful”.
I really don’t think that anything else needs said.
Duncan Sooman, Milngavie.
Expenses claim is the issue
PERSONALLY I couldn’t care less had Michael Matheson invited members of the Moroccan camel herders union to watch football in his hotel room. What I do care about is that by totally ignoring explicit instructions given to him by the Scottish Parliamentary authorities, he failed to update his iPad and as a direct result, incurred an eye-watering bill.
While this alone is not a resignation issue, having taxpayers stump up £11,000 for his stupidity based on an explanation now known to be false most certainly is. Mr Matheson claims to be a man of integrity who upholds the values of the Scottish Parliament. Sadly that claim seems to be as credible as the one he provided to justify the £11,000 payment.
Alasdair Gibbons, Bearsden.
• RUTH Marr (Letters, November 18) misses the point. The point is not what Michael Matheson’s teenage sons did, whether actual or alleged. The point is Michael Matheson engaging in obstruction and deception when fully aware of circumstances. He was prepared to have the amount owed paid in full from government funds which, in truth, do not exist; funds controlled and disbursed by government are the property of tax-paying citizens.
There must be no question of Michael Matheson having political charge of NHS Scotland this imminent winter.
William Durward, Bearsden.
Why didn’t he check?
CAN Stuart Noble (Letters, November 18) enlighten us as to how the Competition and Markets Authority would be able to bring the Moroccan telecommunications sector to heel over its exorbitant roaming costs for foreign visitors?
Being in North Africa, it is not in the EU and never shall be and if I were going to Morocco I would do my homework and minimise the roaming costs on a personal level by contacting my provider. I certainly would not just turn up, roam at will and then expect my employer to cough up the costs, no questions asked.
Peter Wright, West Kilbride.
It’s time to let this go
I HAVE known Michael Matheson since well before he was first elected in 1999 and was privileged to be his election agent in the Scottish Parliament elections in 2021. He is a genuine person, driven to represent his constituents to the best of his ability and working towards independence for the country he loves so much.
It would be a travesty and a tragic loss to Scotland if Michael Matheson were to resign or be hounded out of office by a relentless media on a witch-hunt. They seem to think it is acceptable to target SNP elected representatives while ignoring the far greater misdemeanours, deliberately and not accidentally, carried out by elected members from other parties.
His impeccable record as an MSP, Scottish Government minister and cabinet secretary should not be thrown away because of this one error. His vote has increased election on election as he has worked so hard for the people of Falkirk West. He is well respected in his own constituency and throughout Scotland.
Sadly, his family have suffered greatly due to this incident and the fact that Michael is in the public eye. Teenagers in any other family would be reprimanded and that would have been the end of it. They are not experienced enough to realise the repercussions their actions might have. For youngsters to be under such scrutiny is so very unfair and I can totally understand a parent trying to protect them from this.
Michael Matheson is a decent man who clearly regrets what has happened and made amends. I cannot remember any politician ever demonstrating a more genuine display of remorse.
It is time for the media to show the same decency and let this go.
Lorraine Alexander, SNP activist, Falkirk.
EU offers us so much more
KEITH Howell (Letters, November 20) fails to acknowledge the awfulness of Brexit and the shenanigans at Westminster.
The UK Government’s own analysis found that we would be much better off had we remained in the EU. Indeed, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research recently concluded that the UK economy “is some 2-3 per cent lower due to Brexit, compared to a scenario where the United Kingdom retained EU membership”. Thus, Brexit has made each one of us about £850 worse off per year – after factoring out the effects of the Covid pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. The study also predicts that by 2035, we could be £2,300 worse off per head of population due to Brexit.
Consider that the UN Special Rapporteur, Professor Philip Alston, reported that “14 million people, a fifth of the [UK] population, live in poverty. Four million of these are more than 50% below the poverty line, and 1.5 million are destitute, unable to afford basic essentials”.
Consider the scandalous governments at Westminster, the immoral policies of the Tory Government on immigration, its support for a regime of apartheid in the Middle East, coupled with an undemocratic voting system, a rise in inequality, and an isolationist attitude.
One surely must conclude that to stay within the UK union with its elitist mindset and post-imperial decline is a poor prospect.
How much better to join the EU as an independent nation. To join the family of European nations, imperfect in some respects, but where the rule of law, transparency, equality and fairness are paramount. A union where countries seek to solve the problems that none of them can tackle as well on their own.
Does the European Union offer a more attractive prospect than remaining in the increasingly chaotic and failing UK Union?
Peter Glissov, Edinburgh.
What’s the point of a pause?
I AM puzzled by the purpose of the “humanitarian pauses” in the Israeli attack on Gaza which appear to have the support of the Conservative and Labour parties. At best they would allow brief interludes during which the besieged inhabitants of Gaza might receive some water, food, medical supplies, power and water before the slaughter recommences. In short, the Palestinians should not continue to die from the current policy of deliberate deprivation but be on their feet for the next round of killing.
James Scott, Edinburgh.