LONDON — The finance secretary of Scotland resigned abruptly, hours after British news outlets revealed that he had sent suggestive messages to a 16-year-old boy on social media, the Scottish government confirmed on Thursday.
The finance secretary, Derek Mackay, 42, is reported to have sent the boy hundreds of messages, beginning last August and continuing into this month, according to The Scottish Sun. Those messages included telling the boy he was “really cute” and inviting him to attend a rugby match with him.
Mr. Mackay, who was seen as a rising star in the Scottish National Party, said in a statement that he had tendered his resignation to the head of the Scottish government, Nicola Sturgeon, late Wednesday and apologized “unreservedly” to the boy and his family in an statement.
“I take full responsibility for my actions,” he said. “I have behaved foolishly, and I am truly sorry.”
Ms. Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party, said Thursday morning that she had accepted Mr. Mackay’s resignation.
“Derek has made a significant contribution to government, however he recognizes that his behavior has failed to meet the standards required,” she said in a statement.
The Scottish government has experienced other scandals in recent years. Alex Salmond, the country’s former first minister, who for years led a campaign for Scottish independence, was charged last year with two counts of attempted rape and several counts of sexual assault. His trial is set to begin in March.
Mr. Mackay had been expected to deliver the details of Scotland’s annual budget on Thursday. Instead, Kate Forbes, the public finance minister, will lay out the government’s spending agenda, Ms. Sturgeon said.
The Scottish Sun first published an article on Wednesday citing the boy’s mother and detailing numerous messages reportedly sent by Mr. Mackay to the boy on Facebook, on Instagram and by text message. Mr. Mackay, a father of two, came out as gay when he left his wife in 2013.
After a series of messages, Mr. Mackay asked the boy’s age, to which he confirmed that he was just 16. The boy told the politician “not to try anything.”
Mr. Mackay also asked the boy, “And our chats are between us?” and followed up by with “Cool, to be honest I think you are really cute.”