'I behaved foolishly'
Mackay suspended from party over messages to boy, 16
Derek Mackay: under pressure (pic: Terry Murden)
Pressure was mounting on former Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to resign his seat after he was suspended from the party over newspaper allegations about his private life.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, facing a second sex scandal in her party following the lurid allegations over her predecessor Alex Salmond, told MSPs that Mr Mackay had informed her of the allegations on Wednesday night and she decided that his remaining in government “was not an option”.
Opposition MSPs, led by Labour leader Richard Leonard, said Mr Mackay should now leave the parliament.
The Scottish Sun reported that the 42-year-old minister and prospective FM has been bombarding a 16-year-old boy with messages on social media.
Mr Mackay, whose budget presentation was handed to Public Finance minister Kate Forbes, is alleged to have contacted the boy through Instagram and Facebook over a six-month period, inviting him to dinner and to attend a rugby event.
The newspaper published a list of conversations involving Mr Mackay and the boy. In one of about 270 posts the minister is said to have described the boy as “cute”. The boy tells Mr Mackay “not to try anything”.
The boy’s mother called for Mr Mackay to be removed from office.
Mr Mackay, confirming he had resigned, said he had “behaved foolishly” and took full responsibility for his actions.
“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.”
He apologised “unreservedly” to the boy and his family.
Mr Mackay, who was tipped as a future First Minister, came out as gay when he left his wife in 2013. The Renfrewshire North and West MSP now faces the end of his political career.
Ms Sturgeon said she had accepted Mr Mackay’s resignation, adding: “Derek has made a significant contribution to government, however he recognises that his behaviour has failed to meet the standards required.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “Derek Mackay has acted beyond ‘foolishly’, his actions are predatory and must be thoroughly investigated. He has abused his position of power with a vulnerable adolescent.
“The thoughts of everyone at Scottish Labour are with the schoolboy involved and his family.
“The nature and the gravity of these allegations demands decisive action.”
Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw, said: “The revelations about Derek Mackay have stunned Scottish politics.
“This grooming-style behaviour is completely disgraceful, and he’s clearly unfit to hold government office and it is hard to see how he can continue with the confidence of parliament and his constituents as an MSP.
“Notwithstanding Nicola Sturgeon’s response in the chamber, the Scottish Government must be more proactive in reaching out and providing appropriate support to the boy and his family.
“It’s also important that the Scottish Government and the SNP make every effort to find out if this is the only example of Mr Mackay behaving in this manner.
“If there are other victims, they too will need the support of authorities.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “These are troubling and alarming events. Derek Mackay should step down as an MSP.
“We must support the young person and his family, who have been targeted by a person in a position of power.
“It’s important that we understand what went on, what action has been taken so far and what action will be taken now by Parliament, Government and the SNP.”