Former finance secretary faces fresh allegations over unwanted messages

Derek Mackay resigned as finance secretary on Thursday Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

An SNP activist has alleged that former Scottish finance secretary Derek Mackay sent him dozens of unwanted messages over a period of four years.

Shaun Cameron, 25, told the Daily Record that Mr Mackay contacted him on Facebook after meeting him at an SNP event when he was 21, and said some of the messages he received from the politician were “quite suggestive”.

The allegations emerged a day after Mr Mackay, 42, resigned as finance secretary and was suspended from the SNP followingreports he sent hundreds of messages to a 16-year-old boy.

Mr Cameron, who is straight, alleges that in January 2017 Mr Mackay asked “Are these conversations just between us?” and, when the younger man said yes, invited him to stay over in Edinburgh.

Derek Mackay has been suspended from the SNP. Credit: PA

In September that year Mr Mackay allegedly asked “Got any naughty pics?”

The SNP activist got married last year and said he ignored the messages, which tailed off for a period, but he received more at the end of last year.

Mr Cameron told the newspaper: “I told my wife about it. She was angry but I kind of turned a blind eye. I’m an SNP supporter so it was difficult for me to admit that this was bad.”

He added: “I often felt ‘I’d better say hello back’. If he wasn’t a senior politician I would have blocked him on Facebook.”

The SNP and Scottish Government have been contacted for comment.

Mr Mackay, a father-of-two who came out as gay in 2013, quit as finance secretary hours before he was due to deliver the Budget after the Scottish Sun reported that he sent 270 messages to a 16-year-old boy he befriended on Facebook and Instagram.

Mr Mackay accepted that he had “behaved foolishly” as he apologised unreservedly to the teenager and his family.

In one message, he is alleged to have asked the boy: “And our chats are between us?”

When the youngster agreed, Mr Mackay told him: “Cool, then to be honest I think you are really cute.”

The newspaper alleges that he contacted the teenager over a six-month period and offered to take him to a rugby game and out to dinner.

The MSP has been suspended from both the SNP and the SNP parliamentary group at Holyrood pending further investigation.

Announcing his resignation on Thursday, 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.”

The Renfrewshire North and West MSP added: “Serving in Government has been a huge privilege and I am sorry to have let colleagues and supporters down.”

Speaking at Holyrood on Thursday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Members will be aware that I have accepted the resignation of Derek Mackay as finance secretary.

“Derek Mackay has apologised unreservedly for his conduct and recognised, as I do, that it was unacceptable and falls seriously below the standard required of a minister.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney defended the Scottish Government’s response to the allegations and said they had demanded information “to give us the veracity and the substance of the points that were being put to us”.

Appearing on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland show, Mr Swinney was asked about the Government putting up “hurdles to try and stop the story” and asking to be told the boy’s name, but said they acted “decisively”.

“The Government became aware of these allegations at about 6pm on Wednesday night and because of the significance of what was being put to us, we simply asked for information to give us the veracity and the substance of the points that were being put to us,” he said.

“We saw nothing in writing until we saw the first edition of the Sun later on on Wednesday evening, so we were simply asking for the detail we would ask for in any situation where allegations are being put to us.

“I don’t think anyone – even our worst critics – could say the Government was in any way slow in handling it.”

Describing his reaction to the revelations, Mr Swinney said he was “utterly stunned by the information” when he found out on Wednesday evening.

He added that he had no prior concerns about Mr Mackay’s behaviour, saying: “It was the first time that I had heard any revelations of this type.”