Scotland’s finance minister has resigned, hours before he was due to deliver his annual budget, after he reportedly sent hundreds of messages to a 16-year-old boy on social media.
Derek Mackay quit on Thursday, saying he had “behaved foolishly”.
The Scottish Sun newspaper reported that 42-year-old Mackay sent the teen more than 270 messages on Facebook and Instagram, telling the boy he was “cute” and offering to take him to a rugby match and for dinner.
The newspaper said Mackay continued to “pester” the teen with messages, even after discovering his age.
Mackay is not accused of breaking the law.
“Serving in government has been a huge privilege and I am sorry to have let colleagues and supporters down,” Mackay said in a statement.
Mackay was a rising star in the Scottish National Party (SNP), which runs Scotland’s semi-autonomous Edinburgh-based administration.
He had been seen as a potential successor to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as leader of the SNP, which advocates independence from the United Kingdom for the nation of 5.5 million.
The scandal comes as former SNP leader Alex Salmond, who is accused of sexually assaulting women – including at least one attempted rape, prepares for trial on March 9.
Salmond quit the SNP in August 2018 during his attempt to clear his name.