Pressure is mounting on former finance secretary Derek Mackay to quit parliament, following further allegations about his conduct.
The Renfrewshire North and West MSP resigned as finance secretary after it emerged he sent hundreds of messages to a 16-year-old school boy on social media.
Scottish Conservatives’ interim leader Jackson Carlaw ramped up pressure on the Scottish Government, calling on them to establish a public helpline in case more victims come forward.
Meanwhile, Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, led calls for the parliamentary standards committee to probe the affair.
Fresh claims were made in Friday’s Daily Record that Mr Mackay had bombarded a married SNP activist with messages for almost four years, including one asking if he had any “naughty pics”.
Shaun Cameron, 25, says he last received a message from Mr Mackay on Sunday, when the disgraced politician told him he was “finishing the budget papers” but was free to meet up in the city.
Further allegations were also made that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had banned Mr Mackay from going out drinking during conferences due to concerns over his behaviour.
A senior SNP staff member told The Herald it was “common knowledge” that Mackay was openly flirtatious with younger male members of his party.
The Scottish Sun, who broke the story on Wednesday night, revealed on Friday that the Scottish Government had demanded to know the name of the boy as well as asking for the newspaper’s “justification for publication, given the intrusion into private and family life, and correspondence including digital communication”.
But speaking to Good Morning Scotland, Deputy First Minister John Swinney denied any concerns about Mr Mackay’s drinking had been raised and said he had been “stunned” by the revelations that emerged on Wednesday night.
He added that the government had “simply asked for information to give us the veracity and the substance of the points that were being put to us”.
Mr Mackay resigned from his role as finance secretary in wake of the scandal, saying he had “behaved foolishly” in messaging the 16-year-old.
Speaking in the parliament on Thursday, the First Minister said Mr Mackay had been suspended from both the SNP and parliamentary group.
Interim Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw has called for a helpline to be established for other potential victims.
He said: “Nicola Sturgeon, when asked yesterday in the Scottish Parliament if she had sought assurances from Derek Mackay that the story reported was an isolated incident, replied merely that she was unaware of any other potential victims.
“It is now clear that no such assurances were sought from Mr Mackay by the First Minister, given there are other people coming forward with allegations arising from his previous and additional role as SNP business convener.
“It is also now being reported that he was banned from drinking at party conferences which again suggests knowledge of potentially inappropriate behaviour.
“From the start, it seems the SNP government has been more interested in protecting its own reputation than in the welfare of potential and actual victims.
“A pattern of behaviour is now beginning to emerge, and it’s vital the SNP leadership – instead of spinning – acts to establish a complete picture.
“The Scottish Government and the SNP should have already established a confidential hotline for potential victims to contact to report concerns and to receive appropriate support.
“This is action the Scottish Parliament took without delay in response to a previous incident.”
A pattern of behaviour is now beginning to emerge, and it’s vital the SNP leadership – instead of spinning – acts to establish a complete picture.
— Jackson Carlaw
Police Scotland confirmed they have not received any criminal complaints against the politician but invited anyone with information to come forward, adding they were “assessing information”.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the further revelations made it “doubly clear” that Mr Mackay’s position as an MSP is “unsustainable”
He added: “The government must thoroughly investigate this matter and uncover whether there were any patterns of behaviour which should have set alarm bells ringing.
“Likewise the parliamentary standards committee will have a role to play in determining what the next steps are.”
The government must thoroughly investigate this matter and uncover whether there were any patterns of behaviour which should have set alarm bells ringing.”
Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrats leader.
An SNP spokesman said they already have “established procedures” for individuals to raise concerns about members.
He said: “Once the First Minister became aware of the allegations Wednesday evening, decisive action was taken and Derek Mackay resigned.
“He was suspended from the SNP as soon as the full details, which we had asked for the previous evening, were published by The Sun on Thursday morning.
“The SNP has established procedures for individuals to raise concerns about members, including the option of doing that independently and anonymously if they wish.”
The SNP has established procedures for individuals to raise concerns about members, including the option of doing that independently and anonymously if they wish.”
Mr Mackay, who was touted as a potential future First Minister, has not been seen since before the scandal broke on Wednesday night, with calls rising for the ex-SNP chief to resign from the parliament.
In a statement released on Thursday morning, he 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.”
Mr Mackay has so far not indicated whether he intends to stand down as as a member of the Scottish Parliament but is listed on its website as an independent member, following his suspension on Thursday.
His official SNP social media profiles have also been removed. His former Twitter account now states “This account doesn’t exist”.
If he chooses to resign, it would prompt a by-election in the constituency of Renfrewshire North and West since he is a constituency MSP rather than a regional list MSP.
The Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament have been asked for comment.
Could Mackay be banned from Parliament?
- In September 2018, Aberdeen Donside MSP Mark McDonald was suspended for one month by the Scottish Parliament after he was found to have sexually harassed a parliament worker, following a probe by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland.
- The commissioner ruled that he had breached the code of conduct by sending Twitter messages to a woman which created an “intimidating, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment” and “involved sexual harassment”.
- The former early years minister, who was formerly a member of the SNP before the incident came to light, was given the toughest punishment since devolution after 101 of his colleagues voted to ban him from Holyrood for a month.
- Mr McDonald, who still sits as an independent MSP, received no salary during the one-month period.