THERE can be no doubt Holyrood is out of touch.

In what other line of work could you expect your employer to pick up a personal tab of £10,935 for fecklessness on your holiday with data roaming charges? 

Perhaps the more searching question is Holyrood fit for purpose?

We’ve seen increasing secrecy and a lack of trustworthiness in the Scottish Parliament this year.

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We learned the oft quoted boast that Scotland has 25% of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal potential was untrue. The actual figure was 6.8% – and lest we forget, potential is not the same thing as being realised.

Similar puffery was seen when the First Minister wrongly claimed in June that Scotland had “the majority of renewables and natural resources” in the UK.

The correct figure was 26% and it took two months of verbal gymnastics to learn the FM meant to say “per capita”.

Recently, we’ve had the unedifying spectacle of missing and deleted Scottish Government WhatsApp messages not being provided to the Covid-19 inquiries. Transparency and candour appear to have gone missing of late in Holyrood.

All of this makes the Michael Matheson MSP iPad expenses scandal more important in my view.

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Can you knowingly give false statements to MSPs, the public and the press and retain your ministerial position as health secretary? Apparently so.

The Matheson scandal was almost a year in the making while he was happy for taxpayers to pick up his huge data roaming tab while on a week’s family holiday in Morocco last Christmas.  

It was only when the story broke in the press on November 8 that things began to unravel. In the last week or so, the truth of Matheson’s mobile data usage had to be extracted like a very stubborn wisdom tooth.

It was painful to watch his personal statement which raised more questions than it answered.

Likewise, watching the Parliament give a paltry 10 minutes for questions on his statement looked like a ham-fisted attempt to close down this tawdry Greek tragedy.

By Matheson’s own statement to Parliament, it was on November 9 that his wife told him his kids had used his parliamentary mobile data to watch two live football matches.

By his admission, he then proceeds to falsely assert on November 10 and last Monday that there had never been any personal iPad data usage; all mobile data costs related “solely to parliamentary and constituency-related work”. He clearly knew that to be untrue on those two dates. Why not tell the truth? What we discovered last Wednesday was an attempt by the FM at First Minister’s Questions for the matter to be shut down. As Matheson had agreed to repay the bill himself, the FM said: “To me, that is a line drawn under the matter.”

But it was only the start of the matter. We hear a personal statement from the health secretary last Thursday and an entirely new story emerges.

By last Wednesday, the FM knew Matheson had been dishonest in his public statements on November 10 and last Monday. 

Is a lack of candour and honesty now endemic at Holyrood?

How can anyone trust those in government if they don’t resign for premeditated deception?