A top SNP minister has resigned after being accused of sending hundreds of messages to a 16-year-old boy.
According to The Scottish Sun, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay sent the teenager 270 messages after befriending him on Facebook and Instagram.
In a statement, Mr Mackay said he took “full responsibility” for his actions and admitted he had “behaved foolishly”.
The MSP’s resignation came hours before he was due to deliver the Scottish government’s budget for the next financial year.
Mr Mackay, a 42-year-old father-of-two, had been tipped as a possible successor to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
“I apologise unreservedly to the individual involved and his family,” Mr Mackay said.
“I spoke last night with the first minister and tendered my resignation with immediate effect.
“Serving in government has been a huge privilege and I am sorry to have let colleagues and supporters down.”
Ms Sturgeon said Mr Mackay had made a “significant contribution to government”, but his behaviour “has failed to meet the standards required”.
She said: “Derek has taken full responsibility for his actions and apologises unreservedly for them to the individual involved and to those he has let down.
“He has submitted his resignation as a government minister which I have accepted.”
Appearing before MSPs, the first minister also revealed that Mr Mackay has been suspended from the SNP and its parliamentary group.
Scottish Conservatives acting leader Jackson Carlaw told Sky News that Mr Mackay was guilty of a “colossal lapse of judgement”.
He said the resignation was not the end of the matter and there were “huge questions” about whether Mr Mackay should face further action from his party.
The Scottish Sun published several messages Mr Mackay allegedly sent to the boy.
In one message, he is alleged to have asked: “Our chats are between us?”
When the teenager says they are, Mr Mackay is alleged to have then replied: “Cool, then to be honest I think you are really cute.”
According to The Sun, the minister contacted the boy over a six-month period.
Mr Mackay reportedly offered to take him to a rugby game and out to dinner.
Speaking before his resignation, the teenager’s mother called for Ms Sturgeon to sack him.
“Nicola Sturgeon should remove him from his position,” she was quoted as saying.
“I don’t know if he should lose his job but he should be dealt with very seriously.”