Opposition politicians have led calls for Derek Mackay to stand down as a member of the Scottish Parliament.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed to MSPs ahead of First Minister’s Questions earlier today that the former Finance Secretary has been suspended from both the SNP and parliamentary group “pending further investigation”.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard MSP called for Ms Sturgeon to go further and remove Mr Mackay as a member of the parliament, after revelations were made that he sent inappropriate texts to a 16-year-old schoolboy.
He said: “Derek Mackay this morning described his behaviour as foolish, but Derek Mackay’s actions towards a schoolboy are beyond foolish, they are an abuse of power, they are nothing short of predatory.
“So, this is serious. And while his suspension from the SNP is welcome, he should go as a member of this parliament.”
Derek Mackay this morning described his behaviour as foolish, but Derek Mackay’s actions towards a schoolboy are beyond foolish, they are an abuse of power, they are nothing short of predatory.”
-Richard Leonard, Scottish Labour leader
Meanwhile, Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw said Mr Mackay had “no other option other than to resign”.
In a statement, he said: “The revelations about Derek Mackay have stunned Scottish politics.
“This grooming-style behaviour is completely disgraceful, and he’s clearly unfit to hold government office and it is hard to see how he can continue with the confidence of parliament and his constituents as an MSP.
“Notwithstanding Nicola Sturgeon’s response in the chamber, the Scottish Government must be more proactive in reaching out and providing appropriate support to the boy and his family.
“It’s also important that the Scottish Government and the SNP make every effort to find out if this is the only example of Mr Mackay behaving in this manner.
“If there are other victims, they too will need the support of authorities.”
This is the definition of grooming from the NSPCC. Derek McKay's behaviour is completely unacceptable and I believe he has no option other than to resign as an MSP.
— Jackson Carlaw MSP (@Jackson_Carlaw) February 6, 2020
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, was also among those to call for the former Finance Minister to step down from the parliament entirely.
He said: “These are troubling and alarming events. Derek Mackay should step down as an MSP.
“We must support the young person and his family, who have been targeted by a person in a position of power.
“It’s important that we understand what went on, what action has been taken so far and what action will be taken now by parliament, government and the SNP.”
SNP MP Joanna Cherry said “grooming behaviour” is “totally unacceptable” before adding that the party’s disciplinary procedures must now “take their course”.
Grooming behaviour is totally unacceptable & must be condemned without fear or favour. The First Minister was right to accept Derek Mackay's resignation & suspend him. The party’s disciplinary procedures must now take their course.
— Joanna Cherry QC (@joannaccherry) February 6, 2020
Meanwhile, Neil Bibby, Scottish Labour MSP for West of Scotland, said voters must have an opportunity to elect an MSP “they can trust”.
Foolish doesn’t begin to describe Derek Mackay’s conduct. If it’s serious enough to warrant a resignation from @scotgov then it warrants his resignation as a MSP with immediate effect. The people of Renfrewshire North & West need the opportunity to elect a new MSP they can trust.
— Neil Bibby (@NeilBibby) February 6, 2020