Shamed former Scottish finance boss Derek Mackay makes political return

18 February 2022, 09:55

Derek Mackay makes political return
Derek Mackay makes political return. Picture: Alamy

By Gina Davidson

Disgraced former SNP economy secretary, Derek Mackay, who was once seen as a successor to Nicola Sturgeon, could soon be lobbying government ministers after launching a consultancy firm.

The 44-year-old quit the cabinet in February 2020 after it was revealed he had been texting a 16-year-old schoolboy.

Mr Mackay, who later apologised “unreservedly”, sent the boy 270 messages in six months, calling him “cute”, inviting him to dinner, and asking for their conversations to stay secret.

The revelations came on the eve of his delivering the Scottish budget, forcing Kate Forbes to step up.

At the time opposition parties called his behaviour “predatory” and a textbook example of “grooming” and he vanished from public life - though was still paid his full £64,700 MSP salary until last year’s elections. He also received an automatic grant of £11,945 for “loss of ministerial office”, and a further £53,725 resettlement grant.

Now it has emerged he has set up his own firm, Lochan Associates Ltd, to conduct “management consultancy activities other than financial management”.

The Herald reports that Companies House lists Mr Mackay as its sole director and shareholder, with the business registered at the address of a chartered accountancy firm in Paisley. A website with the name of the company has also been registered.

Under the Scottish ministerial code, former ministers are banned from lobbying the government for two years - but that deadline has now passed for Mr Mackay.

As a result he could now lobby his former cabinet colleagues and officials without checks, though face-to-face meetings have to be logged in the Holyrood lobbying register.

The Tories said there must be no preferential treatment for him - and they want to change the system so “rogue MSPs” can effectively be sacked.

Russell Findlay, a Scottish Conservative MSP for West Scotland, said: “Perhaps the supposed one-time First Minister in waiting hopes to exploit his SNP connections to continue gorging on public funds.

“But all public bodies have a responsibility to adhere to the rules and not treat him any differently to others seeking to get a foot in the door.

“It seems that his new venture has been timed so that he is no longer bound by the conditions that apply to recently departed government ministers.”