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Matheson urged to release all correspondence on Fife railway controversy

The Scottish Conservatives have today written to Michael Matheson requesting the release of all correspondence between him and his then junior minister Jenny Gilruth over the Fife railway controversy.

Humza Yousaf agreed on Thursday to launch an investigation into a possible breach of the ministerial code by Ms Gilruth, after Douglas Ross accused the former transport minister of stopping repair works affecting her constituency “for purely selfish, political reasons”. 

Her interventions are detailed in a series of emails obtained by the Scottish Daily Mail.

One of those messages states that Jenny Gilruth would seek “feedback from Cab Sec on his views”, a reference to Michael Matheson, who was then the net zero, energy and transport secretary.

As a result, shadow transport minister Graham Simpson is calling on the current health secretary to release details of all WhatsApp messages, emails, phone calls and meetings he had with Jenny Gilruth on the issue.

He says it’s vital Michael Matheson explains what role he had in a ministerial edict that resulted in vital repair work being delayed at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of £1million. The work, which was scheduled to be carried out last Christmas, has still not taken place.

Scottish Conservative shadow transport minister Graham Simpson MSP said: “It’s clear from the email chain that Jenny Gilruth sought Michael Matheson’s views on her intervention to block the repair works affecting her constituents.

“If she couldn’t see that her actions gave rise to a likely breach of the ministerial code – due to the conflict between her role as transport minister and a constituency MSP – the Cabinet Secretary, as her boss, should have.

“As a result, Michael Matheson has questions to answer over why he didn’t overrule Jenny Gilruth and give the go-ahead for the work to go ahead as originally scheduled.

“That’s why I have written to him today, requesting that he publish all correspondence he had with Jenny Gilruth over this matter.

“The public deserve transparency from SNP ministers over this controversy – rather than a repeat of the secrecy that has characterised the ferries scandal – so that they can see why and how this poor and costly decision was taken.”