SCOTTISH Government ministers “aim” to tell the truth, Deputy First Minister Shona Robison has said as questions persist over whether Health Secretary Michael Matheson misled the public over £11,000 of charges run up on his Holyrood iPad.

Matheson revealed last week in an emotional statement to MSPs that his teenage sons had used the device as a hotspot so they could watch football while on a family holiday to Morocco.

The bill for the data roaming charges was initially paid by the public purse, but Matheson paid the money back to the Scottish Parliament after learning what happened when the row first erupted two weeks ago.

The National: Health Secretary Michael Matheson  on his way into the Holyrood chamber

But he failed to publicly mention his sons’ involvement until last Thursday – initially blaming an outdated Sim card in the device for the high costs, and insisting he had only used the iPad for parliamentary work.

This has led to questions being asked about whether Matheson misled both journalists and the public over the matter – although he stressed he had been seeking to protect his children by not mentioning their role.

Pressed on whether ministers “always tell Parliament and the public the truth”, Robison told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “I aim, and the Scottish Government aims, to do that.

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“Michael Matheson made clear in his statement that he was trying to protect his family from being part of the associated political and media scrutiny.”

Asked if that means it is acceptable for ministers to lie to protect their families, Robison insisted: “No, I didn’t say that.

“What I am saying is Michael Matheson set out the reasons that he was trying to protect his family, he set all that out to Parliament.

“He has said he will co-operate with any inquiry that is established.”

In his statement last week, Matheson said he would refer himself to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) for it to investigate the matter.

A Holyrood spokesperson confirmed afterwards there is “no mechanism for the member to self-refer in this way”.

The SPCB is due to discuss the issue when it meets on Thursday.

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Robison stressed it is “first and foremost” a matter for the Parliament to deal with.

While she said First Minister Humza Yousaf has discussed the issue with Matheson, she added: “This primarily though is a matter for Parliament, and Michael Matheson has said himself he will cooperate with any inquiry.

“If there are further questions to be answered then Michael Matheson has made clear he will co-operate with any inquiry established by the Parliament in order to do so.”