INVERCLYDE MSP Derek Mackay has quit as Scotland's finance and economy secretary following claims he messaged a 16-year-old schoolboy online.

Mr Mackay, who represents Kilmacolm as part of his Renfrewshire North and West constituency, has resigned just hours before he was due to deliver the Scottish budget in parliament.

A national newspaper reported that the SNP high-flyer - tipped as a future first minister - sent the boy hundreds of messages, including at Christmas, on Instagram, Facebook and from his mobile phone.

In one of the exchanges, Mr Mackay, 42, told the boy he was 'cute'.

He has now quit the government.

Mr 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.

"Serving in government has been a huge privilege and I am sorry to have let colleagues and supporters down."

It is claimed Mr Mackay sent the boy 270 messages over six months, during which he is said to have asked to meet the boy, invited him for dinner and offered to make him his guest at a parliamentary rugby event.

His mother had earlier called for the MSP to quit his ministerial role, adding that she found the exchanges 'terrifying' and that they made her 'stomach turn'.