Last week, we looked at how both Humza Yousaf and Mark Drakeford have found themselves in hot water over the thorny question of what’s happened to their WhatsApp messages from the pandemic. This week, it’s another regular update on the scandal-ridden SNP.
First up, the Daily Record reports that Michael Matheson, the Holyrood health secretary, faces a vote of no confidence in the Scottish Parliament over an £11,000 roaming bill racked up on his official ipad.
The minister apparently ignored repeated warnings from parliamentary officials to change the SIM on the device, leading to extraordinary charges when he visited Morocco. Whilst he has since agreed to pay back the sum, Matheson has not explained how he managed to incur such eye-watering costs; he insists he only used the device for official use and did not stream any entertainment.
He has since come under pressure to hand his device over for inspection after it emerged that the parliamentary authorities had merely taken him at his word that he had only used it for official purposes; earlier statements seemed to suggest they had actually verified his story.
It seems a bit strange the SNP are trying to tough this out; political careers have been ended at Holyrood over far less egregious misuse of taxpayers’ money. Perhaps, as Euan McColm suggests, they are simply struggling to unlearn the habits of their now-receding golden age, when Alex Salmond and especially Nicola Sturgeon seemed able to bulldoze their way through any scandal, secure behind the Nationalists’ unassailable polling position.
Meanwhile, the famous Ferry Fiasco continues to evolve into an ever-more heavy handed parable of grift: it turns out that Ferguson Marine, the yard responsible for the much-delayed and wildly over-budget vessels, has been paying out substantial bonuses, without the approval of the Scottish Government. Insider reports:
“Bosses at the shipyard building two delayed and overbudget ferries paid bonuses to staff last year without the approval of the Scottish Government. Audit Scotland’s annual audit of Ferguson Marine Port Glasgow (FPMG) revealed that a total of £86,551 was paid in 2022-23.
“Almost half the cash – £39,334 – went to chief executive David Tydeman, with £47,217 going to eight other staff members at the shipyard, which has been in public ownership since 2019.”
This comes despite Yousaf saying in April that he did not want any bonuses paid at the embattled yard, which has scarcely earned them.
Still, there has at least been some good news: changes to the design of the Glen Sannox mean that it has now finally been signed off by the regulator.
Incredibly, it “faced the possibility of being banned from entering service after safety regulator the Maritime and Coastguard Agency raised concerns about emergency exit routes”, despite being “six years late and three-and-half-times their original £97 million budget”, according to the Scotsman.
Fortunately, changes have been made and the ship has finally been signed off, taking it a step closer towards final trials and, eventually, public service. It is expected to first start carrying passengers in May next year.