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The SNP will support the suspension of Michael Matheson, suggests Kate Forbes’ motion

The party will also agree to cut its colleague’s salary for 54 days, in line with the recommendations of Holyrood’s standards committee, according to an amendment to the motion tabled by Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes.

On Wednesday, the Scottish Parliament is due to vote on a motion tabled on behalf of Labor MP Martin Whitfield, convener of the Public Standards, Procedures and Appointments Committee, which asks MPs to agree to recommended sentences for Matheson.

The ruling came after it was discovered that the former health secretary had accumulated £11,000 worth of banknotes on a parliamentary iPad, then lied about it and tried to trick taxpayers into paying the fees.

The standards committee recommended a 27-day suspension and 54-day loss of pay over the incident, but last week SNP First Minister John Swinney said he could not support the recommendations.

Swinney said Tory MP Annie Wells pre-empted the committee by publicly prejudging the outcome.

However, the SNP appears to have made a U-turn.

The amendment to Whitfield’s motion to introduce sanctions reported by Forbes does not remove any of the recommendations.

Instead, he merely adds words condemning Wells’ behavior at the end of Whitfield’s motion.

READ MORE: Tories attack Michael Matheson at a campaign event in his constituency

It is suggested that the SNP will support both motions as amended to suspend Matheson for 27 days.

The Tories are expected to table a separate amendment that would call for Matheson to resign as an MP altogether. The Greens have stated that they will not support this proposal, which means it is almost certain to fail.

Whitfield’s conclusion is: “That Parliament notes the first report of the Committee on Public Standards, Procedures and Appointments, 2024 (6th session), the complaint against Michael Matheson MP (SP document 597) and agrees to impose the sanctions recommended in the report, that Parliament excludes Michael Matheson MP from proceedings of Parliament for a period of 27 days of meetings and deducts his/her remuneration for a period of 54 calendar days with effect from the day after the application is accepted.

Forbes’ amendment would have added the words at the end of Whitfield’s proposal: “acknowledges that Stephen Kerr, MSP, resigned from the Committee on Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments in March 2024 because he made public statements on the matter prior to the Committee’s consideration of the complaint; agrees with Stephen Kerr, MEP, that remaining on the committee “would be a mistake” because he “did not meet the criteria of impartiality”; notes that Annie Wells MP also made public statements on this matter before the committee considered the complaint and remained a member of the committee throughout; agrees that this creates a risk that the committee’s report will be susceptible to bias and prejudice and that the complaint will be prejudged, thus putting Parliament’s reputation at risk; further agrees with the disappointment expressed by the Committee on Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments that material relating to the committee’s deliberations appeared in the media before its decision was made and announced, and calls on the Scottish Parliament’s Organizing Body to initiate an independent committee review of the Parliament’s complaints process in to restore the integrity and trust in Parliament and its procedures.”

The vote will take place on Wednesday in Holyrood.

Matheson said he would accept whatever punishment Parliament decided, but refused to resign as an MP.