SCOTLAND'S Health Secretary is to be investigated by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) over his near-£11,000 data roaming bill racked up during a holiday to Morocco.

Last week, Michael Matheson admitted in an emotional statement to MSPs his teenage sons had used his parliamentary iPad as a hotspot to watch football during a holiday in January, incurring costs of more than £7000 in one day as a result of an out of date sim card.

Following a failed challenge over the bill to provider EE, Matheson initially agreed to pay £3000 from his own expenses and the remaining balance was paid by his office – all of which is funded by taxpayers.

But following press reports about the bill, he said he would cover the full cost personally.

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Matheson previously told journalists there had been no personal use of the iPad during the trip, prompting accusations he had been untruthful as he said in his statement in Holyrood that he did not initially provide the reasons for the bill when he found out earlier this month in order to protect his family.

Following significant pressure from opposition politicians, Matheson referred himself to the SPCB – but was told this was not possible.

In the latest twist in the saga, the body announced on Thursday it will undertake an investigation of the Health Secretary and potentially refer him to the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

Such a referral could result in him losing access to “all or part” of his parliamentary expenses “for such period and to such extent as the SPCB may specify” if found to have submitted an “improper claim”, while other unspecified action can be taken if he was found to have misused parliamentary “facilities and services”.

Following a meeting on Thursday, the SPCB said it has “a vital interest in the integrity of the members’ expenses scheme” as it launched a probe.

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Matheson said on Thursday that he will “fully co-operate” with the probe.

Speaking to journalists after FMQs, Matheson said: “I welcome the decision by the corporate body, which follows on my writing to them last week asking them to investigate this matter.

“Of course I’ll fully co-operate with their investigation and it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment further.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Parliament said: “The corporate body will therefore undertake an investigation in line with its duties under the MSP code of conduct.

“The investigation will consider whether the claims for £11,000 of public money, incurred through data roaming charges, were proper and met the requirements of the scheme, and whether resources were used for parliamentary purposes in accordance with all SPCB policies.

“The SPCB will seek to conclude its investigation promptly and its findings in fact will be published.

“Depending on those findings, there may be a number of options open to the SPCB, as set out in section nine of the code of conduct, including referral to the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.”

The body said it will make no further comment until the investigation has concluded, but stressed it is “wholly committed to openness and transparency and will release all material it can, when it can, in line with its legal obligations”.

The National: Deputy First Minister Shona Robison has called for transparency (Jane Barlow/PA)

The announcement comes after Deputy First Minister Shona Robison said ministers “aim” to tell the truth to the Scottish Parliament.

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.

“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.”