MICHAEL Matheson “made mistakes and should be punished”, the depute leader of the SNP has said.

Keith Brown backed sanctions against his colleague, who was forced to resign as health secretary after racking up an £11,000 iPad roaming bill and then lying about it, when speaking on the BBC on Sunday morning.

However, the SNP depute leader refused to back a 27-day suspension from Holyrood for Matheson, which was proposed by the parliament's standards committee on Thursday alongside a 54-day pay cut.

Brown said it was for the standards committee to decide Matheson’s punishment, but it should be done “properly”.

He also conceded that the row looks “terrible” for the SNP.

The comments came after First Minister John Swinney accused Tory MSP Annie Wells, one of five on the committee, of having “prejudiced” the process by prejudging the outcome.

Wells, the MSP who first proposed a 27-day suspension, had publicly said Matheson’s case had been “riddled with lies, cover ups and the need for us all to suspend our disbelief”.

Swinney told Holyrood: “If a constituent came to me and said they were about to face a disciplinary panel at work and one of its members had made prejudicial comments about them, I would come down on that employer like a tonne of bricks.

“That is the situation that Michael Matheson (below) is facing here, and that is why I will not be supporting this sanction.”

Speaking on the BBC on Sunday, Brown said Matheson “should be punished” but declined to say what that punishment should look like.

The National: Former Scottish health secretary Michael Matheson

Brown said: “I think what John Swinney is saying, he's very concerned – and I say this is an ex-convener of the standards committee – that the Parliament and its processes must have integrity and it's quite clear in this particular case they didn't.

“That is not to say, of course, that Michael Matheson didn't make mistakes.

“He has said he will accept whichever the censure or punishment is from the Scottish Parliament.”

Asked if he was trying to get Matheson “off the hook”, Brown said: “What we're saying is the process has to be right.”

Brown added that deciding Matheson’s punishment was for “the standards committee to do properly but I think in this case, they've not done it properly”.

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He went on: “You've had one member of the standards committee making public statements before she even considered the evidence.

“And also she was the person, apparently, that moved the expansion in terms of the punishment.”

Brown added: “I think every every person in the Parliament, every trade unionist, every person that's been through a judicial process, wants it to have integrity, and it's not had that, which is a separate issue from the fact that Michael Matheson made mistakes and he should be punished for it.”

Matheson is facing calls to resign as an MSP over the iPad row, but has insisted he will remain in place.

On Saturday, First Minister Swinney defended his decision to challenge the sanction ordered against Matheson, saying the process on a Holyrood committee was “damaged”.