Shamed MSP Derek Mackay still claiming for rent in Edinburgh

New files show the former finance secretary claimed rent on expenses despite not being seen at Holyrood since February.

Shamed MSP Derek Mackay still claiming for rent in Edinburgh Getty Images

The disgraced former finance secretary Derek Mackay is still claiming expenses for rent on a flat in Edinburgh despite not attending Holyrood for months.

He stepped down from the government and said he had “behaved foolishly” after it emerged he had sent hundreds of social media messages to a 16-year-old schoolboy.

In around 270 messages over Facebook and Instagram, Mackay described the teenager as “cute” and continued to talk to him after being told the boy’s age.

Files released under freedom of information show he claimed expenses for accommodation in the capital in July despite not being seen at the Scottish Parliament since he quit his ministerial post on the eve of the budget in February over the scandal.

The Renfrewshire North and West MSP, who had previously been tipped as a possible successor to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, was suspended from the SNP and has not been present at the parliament ever since.

Documents show he claimed £327.10 to cover rent from July 5 to July 14.

In a statement, Mackay said the expenses “covered the notice period and requirements of terminating the accommodation tenancy”.

Holyrood was formally in summer recess at that time, although the Scottish Parliament did sit on one of those days to hear a coronavirus update from Sturgeon.

The cost of accommodation was included in six expenses claims made by Mackay in July and August, which amounted to more than £1800.

A spokesman for Mackay said: “The expenditure, which complies with Scottish Parliament allowance rules, covered the notice period and requirements of terminating the accommodation tenancy.

“Mr Mackay’s Renfrewshire North and West constituency office is continuing to operate remotely, in line with the Scottish Government’s coronavirus guidance, in dealing with casework and making representations on behalf of constituents.”

The Scottish Conservatives are pushing to change Holyrood rules so MSPs who do not attend Holyrood for six months are forced to stand down.