Scotland’s finance secretary Derek Mackay has resigned just hours before he was due to give the budget amid claims he sent hundreds of messages to a 16-year-old boy.
The 42-year-old Cabinet secretary for finance, economy and fair work contacted the boy on Facebook and Instagram.
Reports suggest the pair exchanged 270 messages for around six months before the teenager stopped, telling the politician his mum would “worry” after Mackay asked him for dinner.
The teenager told The Scottish Sun that before the unexpected social media contact, which began in August last year, he had no idea who the politician was.
This morning the Holyrood politician, who had been tipped as a successor to Nicola Sturgeon, issued an apology saying he took “full responsibility” for his “foolish actions”.
Mackay said: “I apologise unreservedly to the individual involved and his family. I am sorry to have let colleagues and supporters down.”
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said: “Derek has made a significant contribution to government, however he recognises that his behaviour has failed to meet the standards required.”
Mackay invited the boy to dinner and to attend a rugby event, according to The Scottish Sun, which broke the story.
In another exchange Mackay told the boy he was “cute”, the paper reported.
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The boy also reportedly told the minister that he was 16 years old, telling Mackay “not to try anything”.
Mackay would have been finalising the budget last night when the Scottish Sun contacted him for comment yesterday.
Public finance minister Kate Forbes will present the budget instead.
Derek Mackay’s statement
I take full responsibility for my actions. I have behaved foolishly and I am truly sorry. I apologise unreservedly to the individual involved and his family. I spoke last night with the First Minister and tendered my resignation with immediate effect. Serving in government has been a huge privilege and I am sorry to have let colleagues and supporters down.
Nicola Sturgeon’s statement
Derek has taken full responsibility for his actions and apologises unreservedly for them to the individual involved and to those he has let down. He has submitted his resignation as a government minister which I have accepted. Derek has made a significant contribution to government, however he recognises that his behaviour has failed to meet the standards required. The Minister for Public Finance, Kate Forbes, will present today’s Scottish government budget setting out our actions to support the economy, back our people and public services and tackle the climate crisis, and that remains my government’s focus.