Scotland’s finance chief quits over messages to teenager

FILE - In this file photo dated File photo dated 1Oct. 4, 2019, Scotland's Finance Secretary Derek Mackay. It is announced that Mackay has resigned with immediate effect, Thursday Feb. 6, 2020, after allegations emerged that he befriended a teenager on social media and sent hundreds of messages to the 16-year-old boy. (Jane Barlow/PA FILE via AP)

LONDON (AP) — 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 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 to dinner. 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, 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.