'I behaved foolishly': Scottish minister resigns amid teenage boy message claims

6 February 2020, 16:24

By Maddie Goodfellow

Scotland's Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has resigned after allegations emerged that he sent hundreds of messages to a 16-year-old boy.

His resignation comes after The Scottish Sun published excerpts of the 270 texts and social media messages, in which he reportedly told the teen he was "really cute".

Mr Mackay is alleged to have asked befriended the teenager on Facebook and Instagram.

In one message, he asks: "And our chats are between us?" and when the boy agrees told him: "Cool, then to be honest I think you are really cute."

Derek Mackay (left) and Nicola Sturgeon
Derek Mackay (left) and Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA

The newspaper alleges he contacted the teenager over a six-month period and offered to take him to a rugby game and out to dinner. In one of the messages, the boy tells Mr Mackay he is 16.

In a statement, Mr 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."

Mr Mackay had been tipped as a future first Minister of Scotland.

He came out as gay after he left his wife in 2013.

Derek Mackay was due to unveil the Scottish Government's budget
Derek Mackay was due to unveil the Scottish Government's budget. Picture: PA

Mr Mackay had been due to unveil the Scottish Government's Budget for the next financial year on Thursday and it will now be presented by public finance minister Kate Forbes.

Accepting Mr Mackay's resignation, First Minister 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.

"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."

The mother of the 16-year-old boy said: “A man like that is not supposed to say these sort of things to a boy.”

She accused Mr Mackay of targeting her son despite knowing he was 16.

MP Jess Phillips commented on Twitter: "Young people will trust adults, add on top of that respectable positions of power and the trust deepens.

"If as an elected official you don't recognise that power dynamic or worse if you recognise it and exploit it you are not fit for office."

MSP Murdo Fraser said on Twitter that the resignation of Scotland's Finance Secretary Derek Mackay will be a "huge blow" for Nicola Sturgeon.

He wrote: "Derek MacKay acted foolishly and is right to resign from the Govt. Politics aside, I have always enjoyed working with him, and he is popular in his own Party and across the Parliament. I wish him and his family well in what will be a difficult time.

"This is, however, a huge blow for Nicola Sturgeon to lose such a key member of her Govt at such a crucial time - and one tipped as her successor."