Gay SNP minister Derek Mackay resigns after bombarding teenage boy with hundreds of inappropriate messages
Scotland’s finance minister Derek Mackay has stepped down after admitting to bombarding a 16-year-old schoolboy with nearly 300 inappropriate messages on social media.
In a series of Facebook and Instagram messages sent over a period of six months, Mackay, 42, asked the teen: “Are our chats between us?” Before telling him: “I think you are really cute.”
Fully aware of the boy’s age, he showered him with compliments and invited him to dinner and to a rugby match, despite the boy telling Mackay “not to try anything”.
The openly gay father of two was exposed by the Scottish Sun, which published an extensive list of their conversations last night.
As a leading abuse expert urged police to investigate his behaviour, Mackay resigned from his post just hours before he was due to deliver Holyrood’s £43 billion budget in parliament.
In a statement released this morning Mackay said: “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.”
The boy’s mother told The Sun of her horror at discovering the exchange between the cabinet minister and her son. “A man like that is not supposed to say these sort of things to a boy,” she said.
“If I could speak to him, I would ask him, ‘Why? Why did you do this?’ I worry about what would have happened if my son had sent him back a message he wanted to hear.
“You can see he tries again and again – like he is trying to get my son to change his mind about something. He is trying to see how much he can push it.”
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Before Mackay contacted the teen out of the blue on social media he had no idea who the politician was. At the end of their first conversation he asked: “Are you not a politician?” Mackay replied: “Aye.”
Mackay was elected a councillor in Renfrewshire in 1999 at the age of 21, and went on to lead the council for four years. He became MSP for Renfrewshire North and West in 2011 and was made local government minister by Alex Salmond later that year.
When Sturgeon took office in 2015 he became transport minister, later being promoted to finance secretary in 2016. Many had him tipped to be Sturgeon’s successor as Scotland’s first minister.
Accepting Mackay’s resignation, Nicola Sturgeon said: “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.”