Nicola Sturgeon suspends Derek Mackay from SNP amid probe into texts to 16-year-old boy
Scottish Finance Minister Derek Mackay has been suspended from the SNP pending an investigation into messages he sent to a 16-year-old boy, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.
The Scottish Sun reported on Thursday morning that the Scottish Finance secretary, aged 42, had sent over 270 messages to the teenager over a six-month period.
Mr Mackay resigned following the reports, just hours before he was due to deliver the Scottish Government's budget, and said in a statement that he has taken “full responsibility” for his actions.
He said: “I have behaved foolishly and I am truly sorry. I apologise unreservedly to the individual involved and his family.”
Speaking to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that she had accepted the finance secretary’s resignation and announced that he would also be suspended from the party
She said: "I accepted it was not an option for him to remain in Government.
"This morning, of course, I have read the full transcript that was published in The Sun and it is on that basis that he has also been suspended from both the SNP and the Parliamentary Group pending further investigation."
Ms Sutrgeon added: "It is now not just reasonable but important to allow that further investigation and consideration to take place without me pre-empting that. I hope that members will accept that course of action."
The SNP leader said she was “not aware of any further allegations” against Mr Mackay, and had only learnt of his conduct on Wednesday evening.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard joined in the condemnation of the former minister, calling his actions “an abuse of power”.
"They are nothing short of predatory, so this is serious,” he said.
Meanwhile interim Scottish Conservative Jackson Carlaw said Mr Mackay should stand down as a member of the Scottish Parliament.
But Ms Sturgeon called for "due process" to be followed, and said her former minister’s position as an MSP would be determined by the ongoing investigations.
Public finance minister Kate Forbes will deliver the budget statement in Mr Mackay’s absence.