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Derek Mackay: A case of sexual abuse of minors and abuse of position of power

Between 2016-2017, in England alone, there were more than 43000 recorded sexual offenses against children under 16 years of age. An additional 11,000 were recorded for children above 16 years and under 18 years of age.

Police has been uncovering an “epidemic” of child sexual abuse going back the past few decades. In 2014, allegations that led to guilty verdict were reported to be 4,024 after matters were investigated by the police. These incidents of abuse are many decades old and often involve individuals of authority and power such as religious workers, care workers, youth workers and teachers. The impact on victims had ranged from lifelong trauma, PTSD and in some severe cases suicide for the victims who were left with severe mental and emotional problems.

Instances of such abuse of power exist to this day. Recently, a senior SNP member Derek Mackay came under scrutiny when suggestive texts to a 16 year old were exposed. Mackay contacted the young man over Facebook making comments about his looks calling him “Cute”. Mackay was seemingly made aware of the age of his target by the boy himself but despite this continued in this line of inappropriate correspondence. The young man, who cannot be named due to his age expressed feelings of being “grossed out” by the exchange. He further commented “I was nervous about telling her because I felt stupid about it”. He added “I didn’t want her to be disappointed because she had warned me about the dangers of social media but I still fell for it”.

Who is Derek Mackay?

Mr Mackay, who is the finance minister for SNP is the father of a teenage son. He should have known better. However this abuse of power does not stop with this one instance. He also bombarded SNP activist Shaun Cameron, 25, with “creepy” messages. Mackay met Shaun at an SNP fundraiser whom he later tracked down on Facebook before making suggestive comments asking about his sexuality. He asked Shaun for “naughty pics” before putting pressure on him to keep their correspondence private. Shaun has expressed his inability to tell Mackay to back off due to his standing with the SNP. Shaun was 21 when this started and it went on for years.

In a time when cases of grooming gangs are so prevalent in the news, it is perhaps not surprising to see such blatant abuse of power from high profile politicians.

Mr Mackay released a statement in response to the allegations against him; “I take full responsibility for my actions. I have behaved foolishly and I am truly sorry”. He goes on to add “”I apologise unreservedly to the individual involved and his family”. He has also resigned from his position with the SNP and has this to say about his time with the party; “I spoke last night to 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”.

Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, and leader of the SNP had this to say regarding Mr Mackay’s resignation; “Derek has taken full responsibility for his actions and apologises unreservedly for them to the individual and to those he has let down. He has submitted his resignation as a government minister which I have accepted”. “Derek has made a significant contribution to government; however he recognises that his behaviour has failed to meet the standards required.”

“I have behaved foolishly and I am truly sorry”

Although Derek Mackay has been disgraced in this manner and lost his position as the finance minister at the SNP, to be replaced by Kate Forbes, it still acts as a stark reminder that sometimes people in position of power can abuse it. It is important to note when instances such as this happen the focus should not only be on bringing the perpetrator to justice but also looking for the best interest of the victims.

Thus far there have been no claims brought forward by the victims affected in this saga however it is important to note Mr Mackay has only been suspended by the SNP at the time of writing but remains a member of the Scottish Parliament.

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