Michael Matheson has admitted his sons used his parliamentary iPad data to watch football matches amid a public outcry over racking up nearly £11,000 in roaming fees during a holiday.
The health secretary apologised during a personal statement to Holyrood on Thursday.
He claimed his wife told him their sons had been watching football in Morocco after reports of the bill emerged in the media last week.
Mr Matheson said: “It [was] at this point last Thursday night, when I returned home, that I was made aware by my wife that other members of our family had made use of the iPad data.
“This was the first I knew that the data had been used by anyone else.
“I previously checked this, but the truth only emerged after this story was in the news. I should have pressed harder, perhaps I should have been less willing to believe what I had been told.
“Presiding Officer, I need to be very clear with you and colleagues today.
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“The responsibility for the iPad is mine, the responsibility for the data usage is mine.
“That is why my wife and I made the immediate decision to reimburse the parliament the full cost.”
Under questioning, Mr Matheson said the iPad itself had not been used by his children, but rather been used as a hotspot to allow internet access for other devices.
Mr Matheson said he would refer himself for investigation to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) under the code of conduct as a result of the bill.
The Falkirk West MSP recently came under fire for billing the taxpayer after running up the bill on the device during the family holiday with his wife and two sons last winter.
Mr Matheson initially agreed to pay £3,000 towards the cost from his expenses budget, with the rest covered by the Scottish parliament after claiming it was used for constituency work.
He then U-turned and agreed to foot the whole bill from his own pocket after it emerged last week that he had failed to switch over from Holyrood’s old mobile contract to a new one which had led to the excessive charges.
Mr Matheson stated the matter had been investigated by parliamentary authorities.
However, the device’s browsing history had not been checked which led to the Scottish Tories threatening to table a vote of no confidence.
Mr Matheson said he told First Minister Humza Yousaf on Tuesday that his family had made use of the iPad’s data.
On Wednesday, Mr Yousaf gave his backing to Mr Matheson and said the “matter is now closed”.
Later in the day, Mr Matheson then provided the first minister with a “full account” of what had happened.
During First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, the first minister admitted “there is clearly more to it” ahead of Mr Matheson’s statement to the Scottish parliament.
A breakdown of the data usage between 28 December 2022 and 3 January 2023 emerged via an FOI, which showed that Mr Matheson was billed thousands of pounds in one day – more than £7,000 on 2 January for one of two separate entries for the day.
Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser suggested the charges could have been related to a Rangers and Celtic game.
Posting on X, formerly Twitter, he said: “I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that there was an Old Firm match on 2 January.”
Breakdown of the bill:
28 December 2022: 1.26GB – £2,249.17
30 December 2022: 68.70MB – £0
31 December 2022: 505.67MB – £20.17
2 January 2023: 710.89MB – £1,320.71
2 January 2023: 3.18GB – £7,345.69
3 January 2023: 392.66 MB – £6
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