Finance secretary Derek Mackay has resigned just hours before delivering the budget over hundreds of messages he sent to a teenage boy.
Mackay said he had “behaved foolishly” and apologised after The Scottish Sun newspaper published a full transcript of a conversation he had with a 16-year-old boy.
Nicola Sturgeon announced before First Minister’s Questions that the Renfrewshire North and West MSP had also been suspended from the SNP and the party’s parliamentary group “pending further investigation”.
In around 270 social media messages, Mackay described the teenager as “cute” and continued to talk to him after being told the boy’s age.
Police Scotland said it had at this stage received no “complaint of criminality” but was assessing available information.
In a statement, Mackay 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.
“I spoke last night with the First Minister and tendered my resignation with immediate effect.”
The father-of-two added: “Serving in government has been a huge privilege and I am sorry to have let colleagues and supporters down.”
The budget will go ahead as planned, with public finance minister Kate Forbes stepping in.
Addressing MSPs ahead of First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Sturgeon said: “Members will be aware I have accepted the resignation of Derek Mackay as finance secretary.
“Derek Mackay has apologised unreservedly for his conduct and recognises it was unacceptable and falls seriously below the standard required of a minister.
“I can also advise this morning he has suspended from the SNP and our parliamentary group pending further investigation.”
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We have not received any complaint of criminality, however, we are currently assessing available information from media reporting and would encourage anyone with information to please come forward.”