2020-02-06 10:04:08 UTC
was due to deliver next year’s budget after it emerged he had been sending
messages to a 16-year-old boy.
The Scottish Sun published hundreds of messages
#Echobox=1580943655)that Mackay, 42, had sent the teenager, including calling
him “cute”, discussing his new haircut and inviting him to dinner and to
accompany him to a parliamentary event as his guest.
In a statement, Mackay said he had tendered his resignation to Nicola
Sturgeon, the first minister, with immediate effect.
Mackay, a longstanding Scottish National party national convenor and one of
the party’s most prominent figures, had widely been seen as a contender to
eventually replace Sturgeon as SNP leader.
His statement read: “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.”
Mackay, who has two sons, had been due to deliver the Scottish government’s
draft budget for 2020-21 at Holyrood on Thursday. It will instead be
presented by Mackay’s deputy, Kate Forbes.
The Sun reported that Mackay, who disclosed that he was gay after his
marriage ended in 2013, befriended the teenager on Facebook and Instagram and
sent him unsolicited messages.
The paper said the teenager’s mother was furious. “I worry about what
would have happened if my son had sent him back a message he wanted to
hear,” she said.
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
The resignation on the eve of the budget will be a blow to Sturgeon. The
budget is the heart of the Scottish government’s policy agenda andScotland
(https://www.theguardian.com/uk/scotland)now has powers to set it income tax
Mackay had been expected to set out detailed spending plans on the climate
crisis, infrastructure and public services, and criticise the UK
government’s decision to delay its budget until early March. Because the
Treasury’s spending decisions influence about £20bn of spending by the
Scottish government, the delay in getting precise figures restricted
Mackay’s ability to plan his budget.
His successor will face a deepening row over a botched £97m contract to
Marine, a Clyde shipyard that was rescued from closure by a close ally of
Alex Salmond shortly before the 2014 independence referendum. The contract,
overseen by the finance department, is significantly delayed and over budget.