I HESITATE to enter into the debate on the merits of MSP Michael Matheson’s situation, however I did wonder how different a situation he would have found himself in if he was a councillor (salary £20,099) and not the Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care (salary £118,511) .

Had he returned from holiday in January and the council’s IT department then received an internet bill for £11,000 with most of it occurring on the January 2, I really doubt the council would be so quick as to pay the bill in full. I say in full because, as far as I know, councillors do not have the luxury of an “office expense account” from which to very generously donate £3000 back to the council’s IT account. I also seriously doubt this matter would have remained private for the best part of a year.

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If he attended a council meeting and put forward a dubious explanation of the situation and a few days later, at a second meeting, admitted that his previous account of events was untrue, I very much doubt that no further action would follow. In terms of support, moral and otherwise, I wonder if his party’s president would come to his aid in the media or if the leader of the council would lend his full and unquestioning support to this self-inflicted predicament and subsequent attempts to cover his tracks.

I would fully expect, as a councillor, he would be reported to the Ethical Standards Commissioner. An investigation would follow. A public hearing would be held. The resulting sentence would probably be, in effect, expulsion from the council and a by-election being called. Perhaps even a ban from holding public office for a period of years.

Mr Matheson as an MSP is apparently immune from most of these consequences. This seems a very blatant example of double standards.

John Baird

ACCORDING to some, Holyrood is every bit as corrupt and morally lacking as Westminster. Yet only a very few of our leading politicians – eg Wendy Alexander, David McLetchie or Henry McLeish– have been forced to resign, and then over comparatively minor, and unintentional, infringements of Holyrood’s rules.

There has been nothing to compare with, for example, David Cameron’s notorious lobbying on behalf of Greensill Capital. Yet Westminster’s rules on former PMs lobbying were lax enough to ensure that he had no case to answer and this proved no obstacle to his political comeback. Neither can I recall a Matheson like day-on-day media feeding frenzy over the PPE activities of Lady Mone and her husband.

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Probably the most corrupt Westminster government of my lifetime was that of the Blair years. The likes of Cabinet ministers Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Peter Mandelson (twice) all resigned in disgrace. Who can forget other classics of that morally depraved regime, eg “it’s a good day to bury bad news” or that of “the dodgy dossier” which helped to take us to war in Iraq.

In respect of warmongering, Keir Starmer is Blairism’s true continuity candidate. He could, like his fellow centrist Emmanuel Macron, have backed the call for a ceasefire in Gaza. Yet, to his shame, he opted to stand beside Netanyahu, Biden and others who green-lit the murderous assault on the Palestinian people.

Alastair McLeish

ONCE again, it seems that the political has-beens and never-will-be’s like Ross, Sarwar and Baillie are sharpening their knives in an attempt to rob Scotland of the services of a truly decent man who has given exemplary service to his community and country over many years. It seems that Michael Matheson’s principal error was to try and protect his teenage sons from the harsh glare of publicity.

What a contrast to Mr Ross, who brazenly and repeatedly placed his son, “wee Alistair”, at the centre of his political campaigning in an attempt to show himself as a family man. To me that is the stark contrast – a politician who puts family first and one who uses his family for political expediency and gain. Michael Matheson must be allowed to put this episode behind him and leave the branch managers to argue among themselves.

James Simpson

I HAVE just finished listening to an interview by the BBC radio programme Good Morning Scotland, with Keith Brown the Scottish Government minister. The interview was almost entirely devoted to pre-prepared questions in which the presenter concentrated on Michael Matheson and the suggestion that he lied to parliament and should resign. Just before the interview was about to finish, having dealt with that issue alone, Mr Brown stated that he had been told by the BBC that they wished him to appear on the programme to talk about the potential release of prisoners in Gaza. Very hurriedly, the presenter squeezed in a question on that subject before the interview was brought to a conclusion. Quite evidently, the BBC had lied to Mr Brown in order to get him onto the programme so that they could continue their persecution of Michael Matheson. Mr Brown should have asked the presenter why they had lied to him.

Alasdair Forbes
Farr, Inverness-shire