Who is Derek Mackay MSP? The former Scottish Finance Secretary’s political career and why he’s stepped down from the SNP

By Alex Nelson
Thursday, 6th February 2020, 11:09 am
Updated Thursday, 6th February 2020, 1:28 pm

Scotland's Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay, has resigned over allegations that he sent a string of text messages to a 16-year-old boy.

The SNP politician, who had been tipped as a possible successor to Nicola Sturgeon, said he had "behaved foolishly" and was "truly sorry" for his actions.

He had been due to deliver the Budget at the Scottish Parliament on 6 February, setting out his Government's spending plans for the coming financial year.

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In a statement released on Thursday morning, 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."

Here's everything you need to know about the situation:

Who is Darek Mackay?

(Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Mackay had been tipped as a possible successor to Nicola Sturgeon more than two decades after he began his career in politics, being elected as a councillor in Renfrewshire in 1999.

His election at just 21, made him the youngest male councillor in Scotland.

Mackay went on to become leader of the council's SNP group, and took them into power in the area for the first time in 2007- at which point he became leader of the council.

He was previously married and has two children, but in 2013 he came out as gay, describing that as the "most difficult thing I've ever had to deal with".

What’s his political history?

He used his role to build a national profile within local politics, becoming the SNP group leader at Cosla - the organisation which represents Scotland's local authorities.

In 2011 he was elected to Holyrood as MSP for Renfrewshire North and West. That same year he joined the Scottish Government, becoming minister for local government and planning.

A reshuffle after Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister in 2014 saw him appointed transport minister, and he was further promoted to the Cabinet after the 2016 Scottish election, taking the job of Finance and Economy Secretary.

During his time as finance secretary, he was responsible for introducing new Scottish income tax rates, including a new "starter rate" set at 19p for lower earners.

What did he do?

Derek Mackay addressing the party autumn conference in 2019 (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The Scottish Sun reported Mr Mackay befriended the teenager on Facebook and Instagram and sent him 270 messages.

In one message he is alleged to have asked "And our chats are between us?" and when the boy agreed, the minister told him: "Cool, then to be honest I think you are really cute."

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.

How has the government responded?

Nicola Sturgeon has since confirmed Mr Mackay has resigned from his post and that Kate Forbes MSP will make the Budget announcement later today.

"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.